Saturday, May 17, 2008

May 16 Flu Update

More on the new outbreaks in India. Commence Culling.

South Korea claims that the strain of bird flu it had has never caused a human infection.

CIDRAP on the lack of a worldwide vaccine stockpile, one year after WHO called for it.

This report says the US is going to study the blood of flu victims in Vietnam.

People in Nepal are urged to be alert about bird flu.

Political pressure in Pakistan on the slow progress of Ag programs, including bird flu....

and calls in India for the resignation of the ag minister.

Pakistani poultry producers also want subsidy for bird vaccine they have to import.

BBC on the revelation that more than one anti-viral is needed in any national stockpile. Seems like I saw this on the blogosphere some time ago....

Hey, and GSK thinks its prudent to stockpile the drug it makes.

Dr. Osterholm delivers a speech in Minnesota with a consistent message--imagine the chaos during a pandemic.

The Indonesian financial sector will have an emergency drill.


At 5:09 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I don’t think anybody is surprised that not one dose has been contributed by big Pharma to the WHO international stockpile of H5N1 vaccines (CIDRAP article). These big companies are going to produce to paying customers first, before they start building up a 50 million-dose free stash which psychotic Supari of Indonesia could ultimately lay first claim to. Based on the success so far with Oseltamivir blankets in these third world countries, there doesn’t seem be any hurry either. However, once the virus becomes efficiently Tamiflu resistant, as it most probably will some day soon, and we have to rely exclusively on Relenza (Zanamivir) blanketing of communities, then I think we may be entering a new inning in the ball game.

I believe we are witnessing another interesting phenomenon taking place also: the acknowledgement of less toxic and deadly H5N1 strains, as evidenced by the US NIH traveling to Vietnam to participate in the collection of human blood and inspection for antibodies. The most concerning part of the article describing this NIH initiative, is definitely the WHO warning about Vietnam developing substandard H5N1 human vaccines from adulterated monkey and/or dog kidney cells. No way the ol’ Wulfster is going to submit to any experimental vaccine developed in a third world country from monkey or dog cells – ain’t gonna happen. The results of the human vaccine trials studies in both Vietnam and Japan should be very interesting.

It’s good to see Dr. Osterholm come out of hibernation and start speaking again about pandemic preparation. As a full-fledged federal government person with 36 years in all levels of emergency management and operations, national tragedies and even wars, I would cut off a finger (a little one) to spend a weekend with this guy and compare a few notes. Dr. Osterholm has “never been so sure in his life” that a deadly influenza pandemic will occur. It’s interesting to note that our doc’s and scientists where I work are also “reasonably certain” that one will occur also in the near future (I believe you now know where I work and never discuss it). Our experts would also agree on all the key points of his speech. The one thing they would disagree on is the societal and economic impact: much worse than Dr. Osterholm is alluding to, unfortunately.

If an influenza pandemic happens like Dr. Osterholm is describing occurs, count on a situation like 1918 and multiply all the aspects you know about it by a ten factor, and that is what some of the real inside disaster planning discussions are and a taste of how severe the impact could be. It could be a real show stopper in mega-disaster terms, which could make the recent China earthquake, Myanmar cyclone, hurricane Katrina and Indonesian tsunami, all look like child’s play. Will it happen? The experts I know are all saying probably yes, the real question is when.



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