Tuesday, February 06, 2007

February 6 Flu Update

A vet who worked in the cull in Suffolk is now hospitalized....

Indonesia has been withholding flu data from the world to protect intellectual property rights. Branswell reports...this is a huge political issues. Read this rhetoric, and then the entire article....

"We are sending our virus (samples) to the rich countries to produce antivirals and vaccines. And when the pandemic occurs, they survive and we die," Suwit Wibulpolprasert told the meeting.

"It is unfair to let the poor die and the rich survive. . . . We are not opposing the sharing of information and virus, but on the condition that every country will have equal opportunity to get access to vaccine and anti-virals if such a pandemic occurs."

CIDRAP weighs in on this as well...noting that the entire International system is being challenged.

NY Times on this new development.

There are two more human cases in Indonesia.

WHO confirms H5N1 cause of young girl's death. (ProMed)

WHO also confirms a sick girl in Nigeria.

The Guardian (UK) notes, correctly, that the pandemic will emerge from Java, not Suffolk.

Nigerians are told to expect more bird flu outbreaks.

Indonesia has been urged to do more against bird flu.

OSHA has issued guidelines designed to help employers stand up against the bird flu.

David Milliband, UK, Minister made this statement before the House of Commons.

At this early stage, we do not know how this disease arrived in Suffolk. A full epidemiological report will be produced by our experts as soon as possible and made publicly available The State Veterinary Service is carrying out rapid and urgent investigations both on the infected premises themselves and by testing poultry farms and collecting dead wild birds in the protection and surveillance zones

Shanghai has a new bird flu plan....

People keeping "fancy" birds in Pakistan are being asked (nicely) to get them vaccinated.

Good day on the stock market for companies promising bird flu vaccines.

At the CIDRAP conference, CDC Chief calls flu prep a marathon (note: good thing for us.)

Revere blogs on a new entrant in the anti-viral offerings.

The US Military has to prepare for a pandemic like everyone else....and they revised their plan recently.

“If [the bird flu] hits the DoD, they’re expecting a 35 percent attack rate with 40 percent of the force out sick,” Hachey said. “But the force still has to provide defense, as well as health care.”


At 8:50 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I have three comments on your articles.

First, regarding the news about Indonesia withholding H5N1 sample strains from the WHO labs, until they essentially are guaranteed some form of compensation or percentage of vaccine, as compensation. Some individuals will call this a form of blackmail, but any of us in their shoes would do the same thing for self preservation. Third world H5N1 infested countries have no other choice, but to use their samples as negotiating leverage – it makes no difference whether it’s the WHO or Baxter Int’l. There is no easy solution to the current flawed WHO approach, other than to provide covenants to sample contributor’s that provide for equal access to vaccines as a contributory benefit.
The fact is: withholding H5N1 from WHO labs, in effect renders existing procedures futile and severely jeopardizes the development and the world’s access to a pandemic vaccine. This situation must be rectified immediately whether we agree with their position or not. The pandemic will no doubt emerge from one of these same contentious countries. Decisions like this are a no-brainer, because the outcomes may affect every living human being on earth.

Regarding both your articles, the first about OSHA unveiling “new guidance” on preparing workplaces for an influenza pandemic, and the second article from CIDRAP describing Dr. Julie Gerberding’s comment calling pandemic preparedness a “marathon” – government mediocrity and false optimism never ceases to amaze me. Leave it to OSHA to take the subject of pandemic preparedness and reduce it to a “business as usual” bureaucratic set of guidelines for businesses and workers to follow. Document produced – check that square off ! Leave it to Dr. Gerberding to declare the ice-aborted CDC pandemic exercise a “tremendously successful exercise”. You have got to be kidding me – this individual is so “out to lunch” she doesn’t even realize that on scale of one to ten, she hit barely hit a one on the emergency operations scale. Most DOD and NASA critical mission operations run more complex simulations than this, at least once or twice a month, with about 1/10th the people, until they get it down flawlessly. Remarks like hers have convinced me without a doubt – we are not ready by a long shot.

My final comment about the Pentagon refining its bird flu plans, kind of flows naturally: Army Lt. Colonel Wayne Hachey’s comment that the DOD is “using the Global Emerging Infection Systems Air Force Lab in San Antonio to detect large numbers of flu infections”, kind of tells it all. Is this system tied into the WHO or CDC surveillance and reporting systems, or independent of them ? I’ll lay you ten to one odds that it is completely independent, even though it “is updated every eight hours with information from military facilities around the world”. (you would lose the bet Orange - they are in fact independent)

Which government organization at this time would you stake your life on when it comes to pandemic forewarning and critical operations management – the CDC or the DOD ?

Maybe, just maybe, an alliance or coalition between the two parties is the correct solution, so that they can share technology and state-of-the-art systems and procedures.

The CDC is expert at epidemiology and disease control. The DOD is expert at emergency and tactical communications, command and control systems. This is another no-brainer decision.



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