Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 29 Flu Update

3 year old boy in Indonesia is confirmed as having bird flu.

ProMed on the sick boy, who is said to have minor symptoms.

Houston is making pandemic plans.

CIDRAP with part 3 of their special series on the obstacles to vaccines. This one is really interesting...the unique aspects of H5N1.

New Zealand's pandemic preparedness is called world class.

Ukraine bans Canadian poultry

In the Philippines, the Department of Ag has listed the areas where bird flu may enter the country.

Bird flu remains a problem in Nigeria.


At 6:40 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your CIDRAP Part 3 of the Pandemic Vaccine Puzzle, “H5N1 poses major immunologic challenges”, is extremely illuminating in its explanation of the reverse engineering genetic difficulties, government imposed regulations and significant immunogenicity problems, associated with the production of a vaccine against the H5N1 virus.

What puzzles me though is why the US doesn’t bite the bullet and take the same approach they use in the development of major weapons systems, like the Joint Strike Fighter (or even the International Space Station): the part of my brain that deals with threat assessment and international strategy is lit up like a small city.

1. Make an unprecedented huge national investment in the development of novel pandemic vaccines, in particular H5N1, but also in the manufacturing and production core capability. Use the scientific research and technology development progress and results to also feed other pressing viral vaccine issues.

2. Recognize that that H5N1 and other similar avian or swine pandemic-capable viruses, influenza vaccine production, our health care system, national defense and our economy – all comprise one complex big intertwined system, which is composed of subsystems, which are all functional combinations necessary for our national security. In other words, instead of wasting our money of a defensive nuclear missile shield in Europe – why not build in a “vaccine shield” against a pandemic? Makes perfect sense.

3. Develop a truly integrated national health and security strategy, with pillars and goals, which have a strategic unified international alliance with other key countries (stakeholders) – which comprises an integrated health, economic and superpower strategy. So far, our game plan, as well as all other countries who want to do battle with a potential H5N1 influenza pandemic has been a defensive one, not offensive. In fact, we don’t even know where the “lines of scrimmage” really are in third world countries. We are pretty much wholly dependent on the World Health Organization (WHO) for our world wide surveillance and containment of a pandemic H5N1. How lame is that ?

International cooperation and scientific relationship’s, are the key to building what I would call a “multi-functional defense force” against the many problems being outlined in these CIDRAP articles. The US possesses the world’s best secure bio- labs and university researchers, scientists and medical facilities in the world. China has by far the largest production and manufacturing capacity – and we should be forming a strategic alliance with that country.

Unfortunately, similar to our present US defense and military strategy (if that is what one calls it), there is little real international cooperation and consensus agreement as how to best combat a pandemic. What little vaccines that are produced, will most likely stay in those countries that produce it. We are still fighting ficticious cold wars that no longer exist and have lost superpower leadership in the world community. The Russians and Chinese could be our major allies in the war against the H5N1 virus, if we were to play our cards smartly.

Maybe the next US Administration and flock of Congressional leaders will "get it". The current ones in office do not.

If we were to consider these three easy steps, which seems logical and rationale, then we wouldn’t have countries like New Zealand declaring their pandemic preparedness “world class”, when in actually all they will do if a pandemic emerges, is quarantine their entire country from the rest of the world, much like they did in 1918.

What kind of “world class preparedness” is that, really?



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