Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 29 Flu Update

Is there a new treatment for bird flu? Annals of Internal Medicine says that studies were done shortly after the 1918 pandemic that tested the use of blood/serum from recovered flu patients to treat sick patients. Interesting.

This issue contains news of an alternative approach from an unlikely source: research reports published shortly after the 1918 pandemic. In a thorough review and analysis of the historical literature, Luke and colleagues (6) document the effects of passive immunotherapy. They found 8 studies that evaluated the effects of therapy with serum or plasma from convalescent patients on the course of clinically diagnosed influenza pneumonia during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic. Although the quality of these studies was relatively poor by modern standards, they all reached similar conclusions. In 6 of these studies, treatment was compared with a control group that received standard care, and in each of these reports, the mortality rate was lower in treated patients, although the decrease was statistically significant in only 3 reports. Two of the studies also compared the outcomes in those who received early treatment and those who received late treatment. An additional 2 reports compared early and late therapy but did not have an untreated control group. These studies demonstrated that only those who received early intervention experienced a beneficial effect of serum therapy, which is consistent with reports of serotherapy for other human infectious diseases. Luke and colleagues discarded multiple other reports that did not meet the methodologic criteria for inclusion in their meta-analysis. These weaker studies also supported the hypothesis that passive serotherapy was useful in treating Spanish influenza.

The Times of London has this story as well.

On a more conventional note, GSK continues to have good results on its vaccine, and could be in commercial production by the end of the year. The antigen level continues to sink, but cross-protection is still being evaluated.


“There is still a lot more to be done with this programme, but this validation of our approach provides us with the confidence to continue developing the vaccine, including assessment of its ability to offer cross-protection to variants of the H5N1 strain.

Thailand will head the bird flu fight for ASEAN nations.

CIDRAP has the official WHO definitions of bird flu.

China is preparing its bird flu vaccine for mass production. It will be interesting to see how the inoculation process goes.

Yesterday, the story ran about Tamiflu being given to a pregnant woman to test the reaction. We were skeptical. So is Effect Measure.


The Australian Treasurer reminds people in that country that a pandemic would be an economic catastrophe.

Hungary is lifting its bird flu restrictions.

India is exporting eggs again.

Saskatchewan Indian reserves are not ready to fight the bird flu.

A trial of people acccused of selling fake Tamiflu in China is ready to commence.

The Princeton Public Library and Health Department are going to do flu seminars to help educate the public.

CIDRAP on the microchip test for bird flu.

The Protein Science Corporation has a deal to distribute bird flu vaccine in Japan. The Recombinant Virus received expedited approval from FDA, according to the release.'

Apparently, a South Korean drug company wants to make a vaccine, but they are not allowed....because there is no bird flu in South Korea. Thailand is offering to let them do it in their country.

Medford, OR is doing local flu planning.

"When you look back at the 1918 flu, you realize it would be very foolish not to do lots of planning," Shames said.

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