Thursday, March 08, 2007

March 7 Flu Update

The bird flu has reached Hanoi (avian outbreaks).

Bird flu continues to break out in Kuwait. (I don't think we are aware of a country with this kind of avian presence that has not had a human case.)

China says it is not the source of the bird flu virus.

"The findings, which say Guangdong is the source of the multiple avian flu virus strains spreading both regionally and internationally, are the wrong conclusion to the evidence and lack credibility," the China Daily quoted He Xia, a Guangdong agricultural official, as saying.

It did not elaborate.

Effect Measure blogs the paper that started all this, ending up frustrated by the quality of the writing and the way the ideas were presented.

ProMed has the news from a number of countries, and also mentions this article based on the press release from the University. Note even their mod says he/she is withholding comment until the actual article is available.

China claims a mass cull has taken care of the flu problem in Tibet.

CIDRAP on the Iowa Flu Market. Dr. Osterholm thinks it is a bad idea.

Not everyone thinks the AFM is a good idea. "It really compounds uncertainty," said Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News.

"Right now the world's best experts can't tell you what's going to happen, so having 100 people predict what they don't know doesn't add any more precision or intelligence to the issue," Osterholm said. "It's maybe not quite a gimmick, but it doesn't give me any more reason to think we'll be more informed about the next pandemic."

He added, "Whether you have a market or not, you still need good disease surveillance. This just seems like a glitzy way of doing disease surveillance."

This article from the Globe and Mail (Canada) is excellent. Talks about British NHS plans to have people help their neighbors during a pandemic (picking up meds, etc). Question is this...sure you're a good neighbor. But would you be in a pandemic?

Japan is spending money to prepare for a bird flu pandemic.

Novavax of Pennsylvania is a late entrant into the vaccine war, but they have spunk.


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


And a pleasant day to you.

Well, more documented outbreaks of H5N1 in the world today, I see – Vietnam, S. Korea and Tibet in the East, and Kuwait and Afghanistan in the Middle East. The increasing numbers of outbreaks, infected fowl, and mass culls, are becoming noticeably widespread through these geographical regions. In Kuwait, the fact that they have 65 separate teams investigating, and that the WHO OIE organization is holding an emergency meeting there tells me they are rather concerned.

Of course, China officially denies that Goangdong (or anyplace) is the source of multiple avian flu virus strains, but does not elaborate, as usual. Even ProMed seems to cave in on their lack of transparency and never objects when China offers “no specific details” and “no further information”. I busted out laughing when I read the Promed statement (or Xinhua quotation) that said, “Specialists believe the virus was introduced by wild birds migrating from east Africa to west Asia, as no outbreaks of the disease had been reported in the source areas of the poultry, Xinhua said”. Blame it on Africa, how absurd.

Here’s the way things really work in China: either you report what the official communist party line is, or you end up a multiple organ donor. It’s that simple.

Most of the time, I agree with Revere and his commentaries., but I’m pretty noncommittal this time. I guess, as a non-medical person, I don’t have the scientific or academic appreciation or frustration he/she does for acquiring and commiserating over the details. I don’t need to know every nuance, minute fact and excruciating detail to make a determination. I’m more interested in the larger picture segment and what it tells me, as I piece the puzzle together. I really get amused when I read the multiple blog responses from the scientists – for example, “are the people who did the “penis” research tenured?”, “it surely seems like a publish or perish situation”, etcetera. I guess it all comes down to whether you want a thoroughbred show dog with a pedigree, or you settle for a mixed breed mutt. I’ll take the mutt most of the time and live with it.

The CIDRAP article on the Iowa group that is betting on pandemic predictions, is in my view, just a distraction, so I’m with Michael Osterholm’s viewpoint, on this one. I fail to see any significant value added with this $ 245K grant effort. In fact, the money really could be better applied to other more tangible things, in my opinion.

The Globe and Mail (Canada) article was kind of interesting. I guess, in my view, if society wants to employ a “buddy system” during a pandemic, it sounds good on the surface. But I truly believe, scratch the surface, and there is hardly any real substance to the idea – people will choke if times get really tough. How many people now would stop along the highway to even help you change a flat tire ? I put the buddy concept in there with Bigfoot, WMD and UFO sightings – when it comes down to producing physical evidence or proof of concept, it all fall’s apart. I think if it gives individuals a sense of comfort to have a “buddy”, fine, but I wouldn’t recommend staking ones life on it, or making any life altering decisions, based on a “buddy” concept.

Lastly. I see Japan is planning on securing enough eggs used to produce a vaccine against a new type of influenza that is needed for 10M people.

Question: where does one order at least 10M eggs, on demand, no less ? If a pandemic emerges, eggs will be worth more than gold or platinum bars.

Just curious.



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