Saturday, February 24, 2007

February 23 Flu Update

FDA experts are going to pass muster on the Sanofi Aventis flu virus.

Sanofi and other drugmakers are developing quicker ways to produce vaccines in DNA cultures. Seasonal flu vaccines, as well as bird flu vaccines, could be produced through this more advanced method.

Meanwhile, the EU has backed the vaccine from Novartis.

Afghanistan has confimed high path H5N1.

ProMed on Afghanistan.

Pakistan has bird flu outbreaks in two provinces.

CIDRAP on Afghanistan, Russia and the Eu.

The Philippines has moved its flu program into a new province.

Russian government vets say that bird flu is likely to keep reoccurring there.

Yemen says it is bird flu free.

Kazakhstan is preparing for the bird flu.

"The government has adopted a programme for the prevention of the spread of avian flu in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2007-2008, and a plan of operational measures to combat avian flu," Anatoliy Belonog, Kazakhstan's chief epidemiological official and deputy health minister, told IRIN from the capital, Astana.Kazakhstan has set up special laboratories to diagnose avian flu and bought antiviral drugs to deal with a possible outbreak among humans. Bird flu could affect up to one million out of a population of 15 million.

Here, Anthony Fauci interviews on why the flu is still a threat.

Top North American foreign officials, include flu in discussions.

You may recall that Hungary has a flu vaccine that was tested in human clincial trials. WHO is using that data for purposes of comparison in new flu programs.

The US is providing flu assistance to Egypt.

From Midland, MI, the question is asked: if a pandemic hits, will we be ready?

"One of the things we fear is people panicking, so one of the things we can do is make them aware," said Bob Higgins of the Michigan Department of Education.

CIDRAP on the APHA plan covered here yesterday.


At 12:11 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I’m going to do something a little different today Orange. Rather than comment on your great articles, I would like to provide you and whoever reads this, my quick assessment of the inadequate “state of preparation” of the US, for a pandemic. I have participated in a number of pandemic COOP meetings over the last two years, and actually in the past participated in number of significant crises and conflicts, like Katrina, Rita, both Space Shuttle disasters, and the great granddaddy of them all, 9/11. Here are my observations and opinions…

Where is US pandemic planning most deficient:

• The US and its people are not prepared for the possible significant disruptions to the economy and society in a severe pandemic situation for up to 18 months.

• The massive challenge to the heath care system by the surge of sick people will over whelm it relatively quickly, especially in highly dense urban areas.

• The majority of US citizens will not receive antiviral medications, let alone a vaccine – contrary to popular belief, there is no centralized infrastructure in place to control, distribute and oversee antiviral or vaccine distribution and mass prophylaxis of the largest number of people in history. The entire “antiviral stopgap” approach being planned for, until a vaccine can be developed, may not work.

• Inadequate national and local security procedures to protect citizens during the pandemic emergency could spur severe social disruption and temporary chaos in some locales– highly dense urban areas, combined with large prison populations, lack of readily available National Guard manpower and equipment, as well as inadequate critical medical and mortuary supplies. No assurances can be made that hospitals and care providers, at minimum, will be properly protected.

• Abject failure by the DHS to provide for adequate procedures for the three most vital components of the US infrastructure to remain up and running: the US power grid (electricity), the petroleum, chemical and refining operations (fuel, vital plastics), and food distribution (deliveries of food) channels. Without adequate preservation and protection of these three basic essentials – society quickly comes to its knees.

What this translates into, and what US citizens have to understand and make preparations for, in advance of a pandemic, in common sense language:

• Keep basic medicines, supplies and understand basic medical knowledge – hospitals and emergency services may be unavailable, they may not accept you, and you will not want to be in the proximity of large numbers of infectious individuals.

• Very large numbers of people (like all of us) will be absent from work, intermittently, this will mean: closed schools, public gatherings, no public transportation, daycare, nursing homes, hotels, air services, no church services, no public libraries, and anticipate disruption of nearly all normal expected consumer services. Store closures will occur almost immediately as they will be either overwhelm, or depleted of all supplies. There is no national plan to assure equitable or fair distribution of anything.

• Due to limited the limited amount of antivirals and vaccines, associated problems with distribution and health care services – the elderly, infirm, and very young, may be denied vaccines, the highest priority may go to those supporting critical operations.

• Daily life disruption, economic impacts and supply delivery problems will begin emerging almost immediately, even before the pandemic flu hits the US and Canada, no matter what CDC “hurricane like” category is declared – the interdependency of the world economy and air travel almost assures this. If you wait to make preparations until you confirm an actual pandemic is evident, you will undoubtedly be too late. Critical things you need for your family, will be gone.

• Due to the very nature of an extremely virulent influenza pandemic, one must assume for some time, that most food, mail, delivery workers, store facilities and almost anybody or anything could be infected. Basic protective procedures involving Clorox, plastic gloves, hand sanitizers and face masks, will become a way of life for awhile.

• The most helpful people who will assist you and provide support will be: your family, your friends and neighbors. Public assistance of any kind (police, fire and municipal), may not be available or would be intermittent for undetermined periods.

A moderate, progressing-to-severe pandemic, will cause very high levels of illness and perhaps deaths, social disruption like most have never seen or experienced in their lifetime, and personal financial and other losses. A substantial number of people are not prepared for a severe windstorm, let alone what I have described is likely to happen. The entire scenario will be dictated by only four unknown factors: the infected numbers of people (attack rate), virulence of the virus (transmission and mortality), vulnerability of the people (this is where preparation and the ability to “shelter in place” is so important), and the effectiveness of antivirals and vaccines.

Ask yourselves, after had read this all – am I really ready for an influenza pandemic ?

Remember the advice that Noah, the best personal planner in the world, gave to those who made jest of him: “you don’t get prizes for predicting rain, you get prizes only for building arks”.

Yeah, okay I made this up, but you all should get the point.


At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

Hi Orange and Wulfgang,

I read your posts with interest. Just thought I'd mention some of the steps my husband and I have taken to prepare our family. (We have tried to focus on things that cannot be done quickly enough once the pandemic has started.)

1. We have access to a rural residence to hole up in and plan to vacate to it quickly before any containment procedures are implemented around our city.

2. We have a cookstove at the rural property which we can use to cook and heat the home in the likely event of power failure.

3. We have various "old fashioned" implements to assist us, including a grinder to grind wheat into flour.

4. We have books with lots of information on how to live a self-sufficient life.

5. We have seeds to plant crops if the pandemic and food shortages last longer than our stores of supplies.

6. We obtained our gun license and purchased a rifle and bullets for hunting and family protection.

7. For the kids, we bought clothes and shoes in bigger sizes (did this last year and have been tapping into the supply as needed - nothing goes to waste) as well as educational workbooks for several grades ahead of them.

8. We have a small supply of Tamiflu (one pack per person - probably woefully inadequate), as well as masks, gloves and other medical supplies.

Just a few practical suggestions for your readers. We started thinking these issues through nearly two years ago, and stepped up our preparations after Katrina (especially the gun license!). So far they've been unnecessary, and some surplus food has gone to waste, but we consider it insurance.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I always like to read stories of preparation like yours. Real preparation is a “process”, which is comfortably integrated into a person’s life and viewpoints over time, as you undoubtedly know, and requires diligence and careful thought. It does look like you and your husband have given it the attention it deserves. I have been at it seriously also, for about three years, whittling away at my own similar priorities. In my view, most people unfortunately will be terribly unprepared, some believe they are when they are not, and others like us will have done the best we can with what we have.

During my involvement with Katrina, there was very little immediate assistance being given to the many thousands of victims in the first few weeks of that disaster, virtually none, except for us “volunteers” who mobilized. I personally bought two complete truckloads of food and one truckload of blankets, pillows and diapers on my own credit card, and delivered them to the churches and designated shelters, things were so bad initially. I also paid for 13 desperate families at a motel, for two weeks on the same credit card. Many of my friends and others did similar things, so it was no big deal. What was profoundly sad was that none of the families that I saw, were prepared in the slightest – men, women and children of all ages.

The human misery of that event, in particular, was my own personal “call to action”, it should have been the government’s call to action, as well as everyone who comfortably watched it on TV, in their living rooms across the US and Canada. This is why I am so outspoken on the subject of pandemics and preparation. Unfortunately for many if one occur, there will not be many people who whip out their credit cards, load up and expose themselves to a deadly disease, to immediately deliver life saving supplies. We won’t be able to, at least for a long while.

Individuals like Dr. Fauci know what they are talking about - more people should listen up.



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