Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 4 Flu Update

Today's leading flu news comes from the New York Times, which writes that H2H may exceed official estimates. What's fascinating about the story is that it features Dr. Niman of Recombinomics, and gives him some credit for a recent WHO change. Note this:

While Dr. Niman is an irritant to public health officials, his digging sometimes pushes them to change conclusions, as it did in the recent Indonesia case. The W.H.O. at first said an undercooked pig might have infected the whole family, but Dr. Niman discovered that the hostess of the barbecue was sick two days before the barbecue and the last relative was infected two weeks after it.

His prodding, picked up by journalists, eventually led the W.H.O. to concede that no pig was to blame and that the virus probably had jumped from human to human to human.

The Indonesian nurse who fell ill after treating two boys suspected of having H5N1 is said to be H5N1 negative, based on local tests.

Afghanistan says it needs $1M to fight the bird flu.

Meanwhile, donors have pledged $60M to help fight the flu in Vietnam.

Finally, the World Bank says pledges are way behind in the fight against bird flu.

Here's a Wendy Orent article that made its appearence while I was on vacation. I note that Revere gave it mostly good reviews.

In a casino, the house usually wins, but occasionally someone hits the jackpot. It's the law of large numbers -- given enough time and enough opportunity, viral mutation will toss up a deadly combination. No one wants to win the bird flu slot-machine game. If the genes happen to line up and a vulnerable human happens to be the host in the right place, the disease takes off and a pandemic explodes. Given how mutable the H5N1 virus is, the thinking goes, at some point this is inevitable.

But as Brown knows, evolution doesn't work this way. Gene mutation isn't in the driver's seat. Rather, it's Darwin's charioteer -- natural selection -- that drives evolution. Mutations are the raw material of evolutionary change. They don't determine which direction the chariot will go.

Vietnam notes no new outbreaks in six months.

Riverside, CA, will be having a bird flu summit this week.

ProMed with an OIE report from Djibouti.

Recombinomics says that statements by David Nabarro essentially phase out two pandemic phases.


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