Sunday, January 29, 2006

January 29 Flu Update

Effect Measure on the two cases in Iraq, and doubts about denials of H5N1.

Yesterday, we noted that Effect Measure had promised to read and comment on the Pittsburgh virus news, and this he did. Read for yourself. I've grabbed two key excerpts--bottom line is that the results are positive, though work is not done. Also note the cross-immunity this approach conferred.

All in all this is a promising proof of principle for a new approach to an H5N1 vaccine. It builds on other work and is parallel to several other efforts to do the same thing. Perhaps the most important signal here is that there is a great deal of interesting work being done on new vaccine technology. We note this work has been going on for some time and didn't need Bill Frist to hand Big Pharma the Christmas gift of liability immunity. But that's another subject.

Still, there is a long way to go. It has to be shown that such a vaccine is both safe and effective in humans. Protecting mice is relatively easy. Protecting humans is another matter. There may be a lot of natural immunity to adenovirus 5 that could interfere with the efficacy of the vaccine, which might require a move to another serotype or vector. Not an insurmountable problem but one that takes time. The safety issue isn't trivial when hundreds of millions or even billions might be vaccinated in a pandemic setting. A risk of death of only one in a million, while very favorable in the risk-risk trade-off calculus, might be a significant psychological barrier if in the first weeks of a mass immunization campaign the public sees several dozen deaths related to vaccination. Finally there is the problem of scaling up to produce adequate amounts of vaccine. This will be easier for this kind of vaccine than an inactivated whole virus one, but won't be trivial.

Japan is testing a bird flu vaccine.

The bird in Turkish Cyprus is H5N1, and there are more birds in Hong Kong with H5N1.

Reuters on Hong Kong's bird deaths.

ProMed on Cyprus and Hong Kong.

Recombinomics on Cyprus, and the lack of transparency he feels it exposes.

Pfizer says a bird flu vaccine is 2-3 years away.

The Lunar New Year holidays in Asia are not seeing lowered tourism.

Ukraine says bird flu is a threat, but one they are prepared for.

The Houston Chronicle on surveillance in Alaska for the bird flu.

The LA Daily News has a new humor columnist, and she wrote about the bird flu.

Crofsblog has found a journal article that details the results of quarantines in other countries and an extrapolation to the US. For my money, compliance with a quarantine for people who are not sick will be less than ideal.

Crofsblogs also pointed us to a new flu blog, from a Dr. Bob Gleason. He's an MD, and we'll be monitoring his posts for potential inclusion here.

Like this one...on where his warning light is as the Turkey situation subsides.


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