Monday, December 04, 2006

December 4 Flu Update

Scientists say the US flu surveillance program is off base--flu is most likely to come to the US through Latin America.

A medical journal says that a dog died of bird flu in Thailand.

CDC is contracting for the development of rapid flu tests, with a goal of 30 minutes.

Effect Measure writes on one of the mysteries of the bird kills much younger people than seasonal flu does. There are cool charts included, too. I have always assumed that robust young immune systems are at fault, but others may have their own ideas.

WHO's Nabarro says bird flu is still an imminent threat and could cost $750M per year.

Outbreaks of the lethal H5N1 avian flu virus, which is constantly changing and may mutate to be easily transmissible between humans, could spark the next flu pandemic, David Nabarro, the UN's pandemic-flu coordinator, said in an e-mail.

Recombinomics says that there is a large bird die off in Azerbaijan, leading to the idea that surveillance there might be weak.

Winter diligence is detailed in Vietnam.

South Korea is providing full compensation to bird flu victims.

This story, optimistically, says we could wait four months for a vaccine during a pandemic.

A British company has a release on a biocleansing gel that is said to be effective against bird flu.

CIDRAP on the US buying "fast" bird flu tests.

CIDRAP with more on the World Bank estimates of the cost of fighting the bird flu.


At 7:25 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Good set of articles you found, as usual. Today, I'm going to be serious, since the subject of an avian influenza pandemic is akin to the odds of getting any deadly desease: low probability, but if you are one of the unlucky ones to get it, say like cancer or HIV, the results can be catastrophic.

On the Reuters subject of the need for faster bird flu test results; you bet this is critically important. Getting the results in 30 minutes, is necessary in order for officials to take prompt action and implement immediate strategies. The fact that the CDC expects FDA approval within 2-3 years is absolute nonsense. Make Wulfgang the President and I will guarantee a 2-3 month FDA fastrack approval, or government bureaucrats will be in the unemployment line, after they are neutered.

Both the CIDRAP and Bloomberg articles point out the fact that fighting the spread of H5N1, is going to be an expensive "compensation program" for third world countries. My philosophy of such things is simple: either you pay now, or your pay dearly later. I'm in favor of it... but...many of us can see that this could easily turn out to the biggest world handout program in the history of the U.N. What's troubling is the poor track record of the self serving countries in the U.N. and third world corruption and graft - I want to know what financial and accountability controls are going to be put into place ? Are we just going go load up some super tankers with cash and ship it over seas or what ?

I always save the best for last, based on what makes perfect sense in my simple canine mind :

The Effective Measure analysis of age distribution points to me the absolute need to develop a accurate electronic system to collect the correct demographic and morbidity data during the next pandemic. This should be developed now, and this is just as important as developing a 30 minute diagnostic bird flu test. The world must prepare now to find a universal way to collect and record accurate and vital data during a pandemic, for future posterity and epidemiological analysis. If we don't do this, then in another 100 years, we will be not smarter than we are now in 2006, and no smarter than 1918. This is one thing that doesn't require a lot of money, just brains and initiative. I should get the Nobel Peace Prize for this simple observation.

Nobody that reads this next comment is going to like what my opinion is. So, the belief is "Four months for the first vaccine in a Bird Flu Epidemic" ? This is notional.
As the Malaysian National News Agency article says, during an influenza pandemic, " ... global spread of infection would occur within a matter of weeks...during this time, at least the first pandemic wave will be over, and the second and third waves, should they occur, may be over before significant numbers of individuals can be vaccinated". This means to me a potential log jam of fatalities that would be horrific and would boggle the mind. It means every nation on earth waiting for sufficient quantities of pandemic vaccine, would be forced to set their own limited national intermediate vaccination priorities. Countries would compete with other countries for vaccine supplies, based solely on national interests - this means conflicts. Like a tsunami, the world may only be left with post-pandemic reconstruction. Summed up, the production of a true pandemic vaccine may be too little and too late.


At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Wayne said...

I read recently that the USA has spent over 300 billion dollars on the war in Iraq. How sad. They have spent their money fighting the wrong enemy.

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


So true. I believe I have said this before, but the Iraq conflict was totally unnecessary, and has become a costly war of attrition. Without getting into the politics, it has clearly escalated beyond a civil war. Unfortunately, after the US pulls out, the surrounding countries will be forced to intercede and establish their own sense of order. All the money squandered there could have been used for pandemic preparation, or at the least, for almost any other world need. The real enemy that the U.S. should be fighting, has feathers, not a turban.

It just goes to prove what Oscar Wilde said 100 years ago is still true : "A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies".



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