Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17 Flu Update

South Korea says it will be an "all-out" fight against the bird flu.

And this is what they mean.....3 million birds culled in South Korea.

There are now three more suspected outbreaks in South Korea.

Secretary Leavitt is interviewed in the Jakarta Post....pledges assistance despite disagreements.

The Secretary has also blogged the topic...CIDRAP reports.

Leavitt said he acknowledged Supari's legitimate concerns about her country's access to medicine and vaccines, but emphasized that health officials need to retain incentives that enable pharmaceutical companies to develop new countermeasures.

"I pointed out that technology is improving and might well hold solutions that we don't currently have," he wrote. "Once we are using cell-based methods of making vaccines, the capacity and cost will dramatically drop, which will change the entire equation."

The whole blog post is here....

The Wall Street Journal weighs in with editorial opinion on Indonesia's actions. Title says it all: "Recipe for a pandemic."

Indian regions on the Bangldeshi border are checking closely for bird flu.

Local report talks about West Bengal struggles with bird flu.

News today says there is a new approach to a flu vaccine that will provide broader and longer protection, using some common cold virus.

Big news is article on how flu virus spreads...starts in Asia, and dies in South America. So the best pandemic fighting plan is to take anyone with the disease and fly them to Uruguay. Or did I misunderstand?

Yemeni paper answers questions about bird flu.

Philippines also working on its risk areas.

In Bangladesh, they are talking about how to protect women and children (but not men) from bird flu.

Revere blogs the article that said that a pandemic would be no worse than seasonal flu, and that we are relying on a "single data point," the Spanish Flu. Excellent post, key point follows:

More important, however, is a point he makes with his own data: not all pandemics are alike. The three pandemics of the last century all had significantly increased mortality but varied in severity. The reason the flu world is concerned about H5N1 is the extraordinary virulence of the virus as expressed by its case fatality ratio (Doshi mistakes pathogenicity for virulence but this is a minor point). If this flu virus becomes transmissible, even with a major reduction in virulence, the results would be horrific. We hope it won't happen. But we have no way of knowing. Preparing for it is prudent and it would be insanity to look the other way, although that is precisely what Doshi's hand waving dismissal encourages.


At 6:23 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Judging from the first hand accounts from South Korea, they are indeed waging an outright full-up war in their efforts to contain the H5N1 virus. They have probably culled more poultry in one month, than Indonesia has managed to limp through in three or four years. What a difference in control programs and responsiveness between the two countries: South Korea responds to the threat with the motion of a Swiss clock, Indonesia responds like a broken old bicycle with one wheel missing.

And speaking of Indonesia, I think it is highly doubtful at this point – according to Secretary Leavitt’s first hand accounts of his visit to Indonesia – that there is any viable solution to current impasse over virus samples. It is clearly obvious that Ms. Supari is pandering to the local Muslim population in advance of the upcoming elections, and harbors deep anti-western resentment. She’s an ideologue. Either she has a very questionable IQ, or she truly doesn’t comprehend the definitions of “monetary benefits” and “royalties” or “compensation” or “extortion”. (I myself believe she’s probably quite a few bricks shy of a full load ). In any event, as Leavitt himself says, it may be time to finally acceptance their recalcitrance, and move on to other ways to make the world a safer place. We should also stop all funds contributions to them for any reason, and be prepared at a moments notice to bar all incoming international airline flights and Indonesians from entering the US in event of a pandemic – completely isolate the country if necessary. Since they have refused to renew the NAMRU-2 agreement, we should also bar all US pharmaceutical companies from doing vaccine or manufacturing business with them. Write them off as non-valued added: we need to call a “spade a spade” and consider Indonesia no differently than Cuba, Iran, the PLO, Al-Qaeda or Hamass.

You are probably no doubt being facetious with your “Uruguay” remark, in response to the article describing the spread of influenza viruses (cyclically) from southeastern Asia, through Europe, North America, then to South America – where they essentially die in “evolutionary graveyards”. My take on the research described in the article is that it builds a pretty compelling argument for pre-pandemic H5N1 inoculations in the US.

Finally, I really don’t know why everyone is spending so much effort and time responding to grad student Peter Doshi , who implies that the CDC is fear mongering and in bed with big Pharma. He’s certainly far less knowledgeable on the entire subject than any of us. There are “Peter Doshi’s” everywhere in society, workplaces and universities: individuals with some academic credentials who are quick to arrive at hasty conclusions and misinterpret data, and do not comprehend the sensitivities and differences of complex models. Revere’s right is saying, “Doshi’s never filled out a death certificate, I have”.

My response is, “Doshi’s never heard some of the world’s preeminent medical and virology experts, behind a closed door meeting, express their personal fear and concern about a catastrophic H5N1 pandemic, I have”.



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