Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 23 Flu Update

The South Korean soldier who was working on the cull does not high high path H5N1. (If you read the story, I'm not sure the case is closed on this).

Latest shot in the war of words between the US and Indonesia. Indonesia says it was never looking for cash for tissue samples.

WHO says India doing a good job with bird flu, but should monitoring the Bangladeshi border.

An additional outbreak in South Korea is reported.

In Adelaide, Australia, a hospital is set up to test the bird flu vaccine.

Scientific American on stopping bird flu by keeping wildlife and people healthy.

Representatives of 42 countries will observe bird flu handling exercises in Indonesia.

There is impatience in Japan over the lack of bird flu prep.

Part II in Revere's blog about important research on how lung disease effects humans.

ProMed reprints Declan Butler article on how the H5N1 strains are being named, for those who are into that sort of thing.


At 6:48 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I think the S. Korean government explanation of the case of the infected soldier with bird flu, is one of political semantic and spin control – clearly. We’ve all seen enough of these cases across the world to ascertain, that (a) the culler most likely was indeed infected with HPAI (H5N1), and (b) he was pumped full of Osleltamivir and antibiotics to stave off the bacterial pneumonia and other complicating effects of H5N1, and (c) explaining the illness as a “less deadly variant of avian influenza” is nothing more than damage control. You don’t keep a person in a quarantine ward unless the person poses a real danger of infectious transmission. (Credit to Henry Niman, he’s been beating this drum for months: this is a bunch of hooey that the WHO lets countries get away with, which in turn ruins their credibility).

And speaking of a bunch of bologna is the double-talk coming out of Indonesia: their proposal gimmicks to establish a “multilateral trust” (funded by contributions from others, of course), or a “revolving fund” (developed by contributions from certain western governments, of course) to enable price tiering and bulk purchases, as a way to ensure that pandemic vaccines are accessible by them.

What Indonesia is insisting on with their “Material Transfer Agreements” as everyone knows, is simple known as a “quid pro quo” arrangement in the legal world: an item or service which is traded for something else of value – in this case, virus strains for money or vaccines. The last time I saw this arrangement work successfully, was when Hannibal Lecter used this same approach in the The Silence of the Lambs (novel and movie) to demand personal information from the FBI agent in exchange for information. There is not much difference in Hannibal Lecter’s approach to blackmail, and the extortion being suggested by Indonesian health minister Siti Fadilah Supari.

Finally, I find it absolutely fascinating that a tiny country like Japan, seems to be forging the way for the rest of the world to follow, with their recent announcement to begin proactively vaccinating a large portion of their population, as preparation for a new strain of pandemic influenza. In addition, they have realized that if a new strain actually emerges, it is very unlikely they would have sufficient time to vaccinate their people at all. Barriers will have to be implemented quickly to block infected people from entering their country. They are starting on a vaccination timetable and prioritization list at breakneck speed. The world’s eyes will be focused on their entire approach and model they are building, no doubt, including the US CDC and HHS.

If only the US government agencies and Congressional leaders could get out of their state of “pandemic planning paralysis”, and stop sending mixed and confusing messages, and provide this same kind of central federal decision-making and leadership (and consistency) – we just might end up with a preeminent pandemic influenza preparation model of our own. As it stands now though, it’s still fundamentally broken, and turning out to be one heckava inefficient way to do business….guaranteeing mass confusion and panic in the big cities and in a significant number of unprepared states… a self fulfilling prophecy.



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