Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15 Flu Update

Outbreaks all over the place in South Korea, nearing capital.

ProMed has this as well. Two notes: first, the failed quarantine. And second, the situation in South Korea is more serious than is generally suspected....see this mod comment:

If the figures cited at the end of the above newswire -- namely 32 suspected outbreaks of which 15 already confirmed -- are correct, the South Koreans have indeed a complex situation on their hands.

An apparent lull in Bangladesh no cause for complacency.

Japan plans to vaccinate healthcare workers with pre-pandemic vaccine.

CIDRAP has this as well.

International health officials have been cautious about taking steps toward vaccination in advance of a pandemic, because researchers are uncertain if vaccines that are currently in national stockpiles will offer cross-protection against a future pandemic strain. Also, it's not clear if any adverse events would arise from the use of the vaccine, which makes it difficult to weigh the usefulness of the strategy.

South Carolina article notes that the Federal Government will not be there to help in a pandemic.


At 6:04 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Fascinating set of articles today.

I find the somewhat muted announcement by the Japanese that they are going to commence inoculation of their citizens with a pre-pandemic H5N1 vaccine, extremely interesting and a bold move. It seems they are going to be the first out of the box with a test trial of 6,000 medical and quarantine workers in March 2009, then proceed on immediately inoculating a whopping 10 million more designated critical infrastructure workers – such as, military, police, politicians, firemen, emergency personnel and those working in water, gas and electrical utilities. I have a feeling that this is just the first phase, with another 10 million MORE to follow in a SECOND follow up phase, targeted to specific age and health risk groups and some more critical occupations (financial, farmers, transportation, food industry, etc).

What the Japanese have quickly realized, and other countries will soon recognize and follow suit, is – they cannot stake their nation’s destiny on when the WHO bureaucrats decide to elevates its pandemic stages to phase 5 and 6 – by that time, it will be largely too late. No country in their right mind should wait until “significant human-to-human transmission is occurring” according to the WHO… that is pretty crazy in my book. The WHO is not structured and does not function as an “early warning” organization against a deadly pandemic: it actually functions as a global philanthropic health enterprise apparatchik whose main goal is to dispense funds for humanitarian and social causes (mostly third world countries) where it is deemed needed, and to document the spread of deadly diseases. Who’s next to inoculate ? Expect Switzerland, Hong Kong, China, Russia and other savvy nations, like Vietnam, to announce similar mass pre-pandemic inoculation plans within the next oncoming months. In my view, we are now getting ready to enter the final critical pre-pandemic phase where decisive health conscious nations will want to hedge their bets and minimize the risk to their populations and economies. Indonesia will still be whining a year from now.

As your South Carolina article astutely points out, “there is no modern model for a flu pandemic”. Very few, if any governments in the world will be able to come to the rescue, once a world wide deadly influenza pandemic spreads like a forest fire across the globe. Countries are far better off using their pre-pandemic vaccines before they expire and become useless. This means logically that the best strategy governments can reasonable consider, is preemptive action before it happens – by inoculating its people, stockpiling emergency supplies and bolstering its internal health care systems.

Where does the US stand when it comes to pre-pandemic inoculations ? Who knows, not a peep out of Congress, the CDC, DHS the HHS, the Acting Surgeon General (whoever that is), or even the President. And that is rather disconcerting…they seem to be still transfixed on arguing if and when to close public schools, social quarantines and non-pharmaceutical interventions, human rights, and the usefulness of protective masks. Go figure: in the US a person can buy an assault rifle without anyone’s approval, but you can’t buy one tablet of Tamiflu without a doctors permission.



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