Friday, May 16, 2008

May 15 Flu Update

More bird flu in South Korea.

An additional confirmation of bird flu in India as well.

ProMed on South Korea and India. Note reference to a "slow" response in India.

There's going to be an online database with influenza virus information on it. Indonesia says it will participate.

"It think it's wonderful," said Peter Palese, who studies influenza viruses at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, adding that it will help researchers make sure the virus isn't mutating to a form that spreads more easily between people, with the potential to kill millions worldwide.

"It goes in the direction of creating a global health conscience."

The free, online site launched Thursday, 18 months after strategic adviser Peter Bogner and 77 influential scientists and health experts wrote a letter to Nature magazine calling for information about bird flu to be shared more quickly and openly, and creating the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data, or GISAID.

Nature's report on Tamiflu resistance is all over the place. Here, an Australian paper notes that a lot of eggs were put in the Tamiflu basket. Note that Relenza appears to perform well...

And this article explains why, in actual scientific terms.

More on the reaction in Australia...given the Tamiflu-reliant flu strategies in nearly every country, any country could really have written this.

CIDRAP has this as well. Note emphasis on anti-viral mix.

Good Revere post on the issue of scientific ethics and the sharing of flu viruses. He has empathy for the feeling that something belongs to you when you made it workable through your own hard work, and that might work for most research, but not for an emerging issue like the flu where time is of the essence.

A Filipino city changes its bird flu program.


At 7:00 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I see the ProMED comment about the “slow response” to the threat of bird in India – the authors are being most generous. I would describe the Indian response as “haphazard, inconsistent, flaccid, and just plain limp”. (I guess I'm a little more graphic)

The news about the new “Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data” or GISAID data base as a repository for open H5N1 genetic strain sequence information is, believe it or not, a step in the right direction. There are two things that need pointing out though: one, it appears the database was developed by the 77 influential scientists, under the auspices and recommendation of Peter Palese (the way the information reads), a physician and researcher, and the database is not even associated with the World Health Organization or the CDC; and two, it seems as though the US is not a participant, at least thus far. This new development in H5N1 virus sharing makes a person on the outside of things wonder what the highly paid WHO bird flu bureaucrats and their committees are being paid for. Really.

The articles reporting H5N1 strong resistance to Tamiflu due to continued selection mutation, is not new news. It just kind of confirms what we’ve been reading about for many months now. It is extremely interesting though that Tamiflu makes up 80-85% of the US stockpile of antiviral drugs for flu, with Relenza the remainder. What really gives a person pause are the comments made by HHS spokesman Bill Hall: he calls the report from Nature “interesting”, but said it would not prompt a change in the agency’s antiviral stockpiling strategy, in fact…he says, “our public health approach to our stockpiling strategy remains unchanged”. Note carefully: no mention that the national antiviral stockpile strategy it will even be reviewed or reconsidered. This essentially means that if an extremely Tamiflu resistant and virulent influenza virus were to start spreading throughout the world (pandemic), many countries including the US would be in desperate trouble.

The next Administration and new Congressional leaders need to address this looming critical situation quickly, and update the mix of antivirals within the national stockpiles. It is apparent that during this controversial election year, the current lame-duck administration are more interested in political posturing, focusing on the sputtering economy and on the raging ridiculous war in the middle east, all of which are sucking our national resources, military hardware and national treasury, absolutely dry to the bone.

I hate to get political here (you can delete this if you want), but if the current political party stays in power, everybody better get real serious about laying in a 3-6 months worth of supplies. There will be nothing worse I can imagine than 300 million very torqued-off people being given an antiviral drug from a national stockpile, that won’t work against a deadly H5N1 virus, when the scientists published numerous well-founded warnings in advance.


At 7:33 AM, Blogger mekongDX said...

Wulfgang, can send me an email? Would like to ask you a few questions about a stry i've been thinking about. thanks, robin


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