April 17th Flu UpdateBy far, today's lead story is the the FDA has approved its first bird flu vaccine. Sanofi Aventis is already stockpiling the virus, which will not be available commercially. We all remember this--its the two-shot vaccine that has limited coverage. Virus is not approved for anyone under 18. Note the less than inspiring comments (though perhaps they are honest) below.
The Sanofi vaccine is given in two 90-microgram doses given about a month apart. The two shots contain 12 times the 15-microgram dose contained in regular winter flu shots.
"You'd like to respond to a pandemic quicker than that and ideally you'd like a vaccine where you had one dose and would need less antigen. Those types of vaccines are under study and development," Norman Baylor, director of the FDA's vaccine office, told reporters, adding later: "At this point, this is where we are."
Those other studies are looking at the use of immune boosters, called adjuvants, to try to improve the effectiveness of the H5N1 vaccine. Eventually, adjuvants also might shrink the needed dose for a pandemic vaccine closer to what's now used in seasonal shots.
CIDRAP also has the vaccine story. Note this:
HHS has said it is moving forward with the development of a "clade 2" H5N1 vaccine, based on viruses that circulated in birds in China and Indonesia in 2003-04 and spread to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa in 2005 and 2006
This might be the most significant article of the day. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recently did a study (cited here on CIDRAP) that says pandemic planning is failing to hit the grassroots. My opinion is that the grassroots is where the only progress will be made, just as it was in the New Orleans flood. In general, official forces were in the way and everyday people saved lives. (also cites a few other flu blogs).
Here is a link to the report from Pitt.
Here's a National Academies report on the same topic.
Pakistan has budgeted funds for the bird flu fight.
From Britain, evidence that says that the flu might cause heart attacks. Think about that during a pandemic. (Did anyone ever go back and look at heart attack rates during the 1968 pandemic?)
Taiwan wants WHO membership--partly to aid in bird flu fight.
Nigeria continues to deny that there are human cases there currently.
An expert tells Fiji that it is not ready for a pandemic.