May 27 Flu Update
Readers note: I just finished reading the Nature articles today, and they are excellent. Many are nothing new to close observers of the flu scene, but the future blog is very good. Anyone wishing to understand the flu can start with the Nature articles.The Chinese say the bird flu threat has been stemmed.China is also admitting to some under-reporting.PBS jumps in on the China story, with this interview which contains audio links.China is also denying any human bird flu deaths.Recombinomics says the key questions is what killed 121 people in Qinghai?--note...given the unconfirmed nature of the report, the first question might be "were there 121 deaths?"Recombinomics says that the 1,000 bird deaths is unprecedented.Effect Measure on what we know and don't know in China.
Here's an update from Effect Measure that may shed light on the "blackout" characertization.
Update, 2:35 EST pm, 5/27/05: From China Daily (reporting press conference held by Jia Youling, director general of the Veterinary Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture):The Pulitzer Prize Winning (Toledo) Blade weighed in with an anti-flu editorial today.Even so, this Bump in the Beltway dude thinks its dopey.CIDRAP on the Nature article.CIDRAP on the Indonesia and the China situations.The Standard of Hong Kong notes that the flu season isn't ending there.Here's an estimate of 207,000 bird flu deaths in US...which as you know is on the low side of the estimates.Euopreans are planning to fight a flu pandemic.WebMD notes criticism of US pandemic preparation.Effect Measure notes that the US pandemic plan should be done by the end of the summer. Not that there is any reason to hurry.Effect Measure throws up his hands at high public officials who are concerned about our lack of flu planning--and it was their job in the first place.ProMed on Chinese claims of a 100% effective flu vaccine.
Qinghai Province, has been sealed off right after death of some migratory birds was found. He said there had been no precedent in the world to prevent and control avian influenza among migratory birds, and China's measures are all aimed at preventing the virus from spreading to domestic animals and human beings.
Up to May 26, more than 1,000 migratory birds including bar-headed geese and great black-headed gulls were killed by bird flu virus in northwest China's Qinghai Province. No tourists and irrelevant persons had been allowed to get into the habitats of migratory birds and the infected areas since the outbreak, he said."Sealing off the province" might be the source of the "blackout" rumors and also the suspicion something dire was happening there. We will keep watching developments.
May 18 Flu Update
Leading today's Flu news, WHO is telling a conference that evidence shows a mutating flu virus, and a strong pandemic possibility. Greater human-human transmission is also noted. Here, CIDRAP writes.Bloomberg has a media report on WHOProMed Mail has its take on the WHO report.After an inconclusive test, Indonesia wants to test a worker for flu. It would be the first Indonesian case, at least since 12/04.Recombinomics on what this means.Gridlock on Parliament Hill has left the flu vaccine tests victim to budget wars---can Belinda Stronach really fix this?Europeans looking into early warning sign for bird flu.Recombinomics on evidence of, you guessed it, recombination among H5N1 viruses, and a plea for more public data.Recombinomics with today's analytic piece.
In it, Niman writes about the tamiflu containment strategy. Under that concept, if the flu hits, tamiflu, an antiviral that effects the N part of H5N1, would be rushed to the site to limit the spread before the disease gets too many branches and is unstoppable.
Others have wondered about this approach. In this article, Recombinomics poses the idea that there could be evidence that the virus easily mutates to be tamiflu resistant.
This is a significant idea. Check these pages, and you will see that tamiflu is a central part of every nation's defense to the pandemic. Tamiflu is being stockpiled in many places. A tamiflu-resistant flu would be signficiantly bad news.
Thus, media reports suggest that significant changes are occurring in HA and NA. NA is targeted by the only available H5N1 antiviral, Tamiflu. The above report suggests that an H5N1 Tamiflu-resistant strain has evolved. Widespread use of Tamiflu will generate selection pressure for resistance. The comments above imply that such resistance is relatively easy for H5N1, since the number of H5N1 confirmed patients treated with Tamiflu has been exceedingly low. Tamiflu is the antiviral drug being stockpiled by many countries.Effect Measure on the latest situation in Vietnam.
May 17 Flu Update
There's a world health assembly going on, and they are talking flu...Its a vaccine story...CIDRAP on the second case in Vietnam. I am sure others will notice the presence of a false negative test.Recombinomics on the lack of 2005 isolates in the GenBank.
A pertinent article excerpt:
...WHO is looking for reassortment with human genes, which has never been reported for H5N1 in spite of 4 distinct human outbreaks in 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005. WHO still believes the evolving H5N1 genetic changes are from random mutations instead of elegant evolution via recombination.Recombinomics on the asymptomatic pigs.ProMed on the second Vietnemese case.
May 1 Mayday Flu Update
Independent in Britain on the flu pandemic and human-human transmission in Asia.Working off thes story listed above, Recombinomics draws parallels between 1918 and 2005. Note the confirmation of the 7 clusters, note WHO calling in unprecedented, and note the 33 flu in Korea opening a second front and unparalleled chance for infection.
My commentary here. A while ago we had a story on the government running computer simulations to plot strategies on containment. Nature is constantly moving, testing limits, finding openings without looking for them. This is proof that simulating is probably folly, and right only by luck. A deadly pandemic, if it occurs, will come only by the confluence of events which could never have been predicted, as all "accidents" are.Recombiomics on 33 flu and bioterrorism.