Friday, November 23, 2007

November 22 Flu Update

Welcome Helen Branswell back to the flu beat: WHO meeting battling long odds on virus sharing.

Revere has the best posts on the WHO meeting, running dispatches from someone on the are the day 2 updates. The US and Indonesia are really going at it.

Indonesia has not said that it will not participate in a mandatory virus sharing, mandatory benefit sharing system. It has said, and other countries such as Brazil have agreed, that whether or not virus sharing should be mandatory should remain in brackets until the result of other negotiations here are clear. Until the whole package is apparent. The US attack and subsequent inflexibility left it isolated on the issue and ended the day (at 9:30PM) on a relatively sour note.

And here's the update from Day 3.

Second, this meeting is not getting very far. The results appear unlikely to move us very far forward. Not only is there too much hotly contested text resulting in too little time to properly work through the issues, but the main players that need to pony up their ideas for fixing the GISN (namely, the US, EU, and Indonesia) are not articulating solutions.

Text of Margaret Chan's address to the WHO meeting.

I fully support any effort that leads to greater and more equitable access to pandemic vaccines. Vaccines are the best insurance policy for public health. They are our best protection against the risk that the next pandemic will negate or set back our hard-won achievements in health development. The meeting will also address the sharing of viruses. The sharing of viruses serves public health in ways that go beyond the development of pandemic vaccines.

ProMed on UK and Yemen. Note possible outbreak in Yemen.

The UK released its plans for vaccinating the entire nation.

The UK's antiviral stock is also to be doubled....

Which Roche reports it can handle with ramped up production.

The Guardian (UK) does a Q&A on pandemic flu.

The Scottish Government reports on pandemic prep to its parliament.

Journalists in Ghana receive lessons in bird flu reporting.

Azerbaijan checks in: situation stable.

After four months, Hong Kong is importing Malaysian poultry again.

The Astrology of the 1918 Pandemic is detailed...


At 8:00 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I’m absolutely elated that there is still a standoff between the Western powers and Indonesia at the WHO Geneva meeting over “retention of intellectual property rights”. It would really grind my gears if anybody cow-tails to an extortionist like Supari. Secret information: her health minions are bragging in the local Indonesian media how she/they are going to force the western rich powers to share their wealth generated by the virus strains. Yeah, right on, and I’m gonna win the multi-state Mega Lotto with one quick-pick ticket.

What really caught my attention is Great Britain and their abrupt decision to plan for a “worst case pandemic” scenario. It appears they are quickly ramping up to procure Tamiflu for up to 50% of their entire population, ordering a whopping 14.7 million course of antibiotics, and calculating a 50% Attack Rate and 2.5% Case Fatality Rate. They are essentially doubling most of their stockpiles, and anticipating 750,000 deaths in the worst case. Their stated “best case” pandemic scenario estimates a measly 55,000 deaths in Great Britain, based on a puny .4% CFR, and possibly 2-7 million deaths worldwide. Not very likely in my view. They should put these low numbers on their Christmas wish-list.

The real pandemic planning scenario ongoing in the US is almost impossible to fathom, because it has mainly defaulted to the states, and fundamentally there are huge disconnects and gaps in the planning numbers and assumptions. Generally, some states are planning for a CFR’s as low as .2% (unbelievably low), and other states planning to no higher than 2.5%, as near as I can determine.

The real dichotomy is that the top US government officials have ordered all government agencies to plan for a worst case 40% attack rate, worker absenteeism as high as 90%, a 2.5% CFR, and total shut down of operations for up to three and four months per pandemic “wave”.

It would seem that the most logical and rational approach would be to get all of the states and territories, as well as Mexico and Canada on the same planning scenarios.

But it gets much worse when other opinions and facts enter the fray:

1) Dimitri Lvov of Russia's Institute of Virology predicts 1 billion deaths worldwide
2) Norweigan scientist and member of national pandemic committee Olav Albert Christophersen, recently criticized his government for underestimating the danger of a pandemic – the "Spanish flu" is not considered worst case scenario anymore, It could be much worse, half the population could die based on what we know about H5N1 in Indonesia and Egypt. The plans must be based on this, and not a milder scenario than spanish flu. (ref:
3) Internal discussions I have heard myself from some of the US best and brightest scientists and expert physicians, predicted worldwide deaths from as low as 100M, to as high as 500M. I won’t even tell you the upper numbers I heard for the US.

I believe the Brit’s have now awakened to the fact that an influenza pandemic, for which there is no matched vaccine and won’t be for months after inception, could create a crushing blow on their society and systems.

I predict that within a few months, as the real pandemic scenario starts shaping on the horizon, that the US will follow suit and double, or even triple its efforts on all fronts, and the race will be on.

In other words, we ain’t seen nothing yet folks. The good news is that there is still time for individuals and families to prepare. The bad news is that time is growing short.
Contrary to Terry Lamb (author: Planetary Miasms: The Astrology of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic), we do not have until “the approaching waxing square of Uranus and Pluto, which will occur in 2011-15”.

Just my opinion.



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