Friday, December 16, 2005

December 16 Flu Update--Vaccine News May Not be as good as reported

The New Scientist reports on the vaccine news from Sanofi, and their take is not as positive as the official reports earlier in the week.

Scientists had hoped that very low doses of vaccine virus would make humans immune if injected along with an immune-stimulating chemical called an adjuvant.

But on Thursday, French vaccine company Sanofi pasteur announced that in tests on 300 people in France, they did not. “The prospects for adequate global supplies of an effective pandemic vaccine of any kind are dimmer now than they were last week,” David Fedson, founder of the vaccine industry’s pandemic task force, told New Scientist.


Helen Branswell, as usual, gets it right, saying that results are disappointing to anyone hoping for a "fish and loaves type miracle."

I think most people wonder what's going on in that virus. Is it moving toward H2H, or is it stuck? Is it a sudden movement, or will it be gradual. David Nabarro of WHO says that people should not be complacent, that the virus has made mutations already that could tend to point to H2h.

"There are some subtle changes in the genetic makeup of H5N1 which suggest that it is making some of the mutations that would enable it to have a higher likelihood of being able to become a human-to-human transmitted virus," said David Nabarro.

"Virologists who study these things say do not get complacent. It is quite feasible that H5N1 could mutate. The fact that it has taken some years should not lead you to believe that we are through the worst."


WHO officially confirms the sixth human case in China.

CIDRAP on the Chinese case.

Human death reported in Indonesia.

ProMed on China and Indonesia.

ProMed on Taiwan and Romania, as well.

There are also more suspected outbreaks in Romania.

Reuters on the most recent human cases.

More Ukranian villages have been hit.

Health experts warn Tamiflu is not a panacea

Clinical data supports Tamiflu's success against H5N1. Not all human victims of avian flu have been treated with Tamiflu - it has to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be effective - but most who have taken it survived.

Some research also indicates that in controlled environments, people who take sustained treatments of Tamiflu may be protected against avian flu. Coupled with the drug's ability to stop the spread of the H5N1 virus within the body, experts say it will prove critical in saving lives during the early stages of a pandemic.

"These antivirals are tremendously effective in a pandemic," said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, head of the pandemic influenza task force at the Infectious Diseases Society of America.



An interesting step forward...Indonesia and Thailand are essentially going to pool their Tamiflu stocks...giving each a greater rapid response capability.

Australia is ordering $60M worth of Relenza, another antiviral.

Biota boss Peter Cook welcomed the deal, saying it proved the company had an "excellent" product - superior to the rival Roche drug Tamiflu, which has also been stockpiled by the Government.

"Relenza has not demonstrated the resistance that Tamiflu has and appears to be efficacious in conditions where Tamiflu is not," he said.
Indonesia says it will have human vaccine in one year.

The Chinese vice-premier says that despite initial success in fighting bird flu, it remains a long-term task.

A similar message from Vietnam, where the Deputy PM said that the fights goes on, and people have to remain vigilant.


The UN's David Nabarro is in Cambodia, where he told people that the flu pandemic could start anywhere.

The British House of Lords has told the government it should being doing more on an international basis to fight the flu.

Businesses in British Columbia have been told to make a plan and check it twice....

Thousands of dead birds were found in Malawi, and AI tests are being done. Note the mod comment calling for caution.

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