February 27 Flu UpdateA new human case has been reported in Egypt, a 4-year old girl.
The US has approved the bird flu vaccine, which is safe, but, as noted earlier, may not be very effective.
CIDRAP on the FDA Approval.
Sanofi, in a report submitted to the FDA panel, revealed that two 90-microgram (mcg) doses, administered 28 days apart, generated a protective immune response in 45% of patients. That level is less than the 54% rate reported almost a year ago in the New England Journal of Medicine. The higher rate was based on interim findings, the AP reported yesterday. The researchers used a neutralizing antibody titer of 1:40, a fourfold or more increase in antibody titer, to define adequate immune response.
This report gives a little more nuanced reading to the vaccine story.
“I would think this is almost a Step 1,” said Dr. Robert Couch, an expert in respiratory viruses from Baylor College School of Medicine in Houston. “This is not the answer to the H5 vaccine problem, but this is a first step.”
“We have to look upon this as an interim vaccine,” added Dr. Robert Webster, an authority on avian influenza who is based at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Effect Measure also blogs on this vaccine. Here is the salient paragraph.
The amount of viral antigen needed to protect less than half the subjects required two doses of 90 micrograms each. That's twelve times as much antigen as in the current seasonal flu shot, although current flu vaccines have antigen for three different flu viruses (two influenza A and one influenza B), so plausibly these results represent only a factor of four lower productive capacity to make this vaccine. Other vaccines have now been produced with much better ability to produce comparable antibody levels with less antigen, so why the government would put in an order for this vaccine is a bit of a mystery. This vaccine uses egg-based technology and seems doomed to be too ineffective and result in too little productive capacity to make it worthwhile investing in at this point.
Helen Branswell on a GSK plan to sell a pre-pandemic vaccine in the marketplace.
7 more birds have died in Kuwait.
However, Kuwait says there are no human cases.
Northern Vietnam is at high risk of bird flu after their first case emerged...spraying disinfectant is recommended.
The UN is investigating in Laos where the first case has emerged.
ProMed on Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Story in Nigeria notes that the bird flu hits the poor hardest.
Turkey has claimed to have "medically screened" 44,000 people.
EU has a "swat" team ready for winter flu outbreaks (just in time).
The NHS in the UK is coordinating a pandemic summit.
A province in the Philippines says it is bird flu free.