Monday, June 16, 2008

June 15 Flu Update

Sanofi donates vaccine to WHO.

Helen Branswell weighs in on the Baxter vaccine.

ProMed runs a guest article on the weak point of containment strategy--rapid universal testing of suspected bird flu cases.

St. Joseph County in Indiana is preparing for the bird flu.

The American Health Legal Association is the latest group with a pan flu guide...


At 6:09 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your first article about Sanofi-Aventis in Pa, donating 60 million doses of its H5N1 vaccine to the WHO global vaccine stockpile, coupled with GSK’s 50 million doses, should (conceptually) help break the impasse with Indonesia regarding supplying the “poor third world countries”. That’s a whopping 110 million reserve doses. However, at this point in the debate, I doubt if a full one billion doses would satisfy the Indonesian health minister. She is obsessed with receiving compensation and turning the 50 year old WHO voluntary compliance process upside down. (plus, I might add, the entire subject of vaccines has descended into a religious vendetta against the west and is being used as an internal political lever for her ruling party). Watch Indonesia’s reaction to this news of a beefed up WHO global vaccine stockpile: too little quantity, no guarantees, no quid-pro-quo compensation, and no tacit agreement for it’s distribution. And of course, no more strain samples from there “until the problem is rectified”.

Continuing on the vaccine theme, when I read Helen Branswell’s article, one key question comes to mind: although there is very little doubt that the Baxter methodology for developing an avian flu vaccine (via kidney cells from monkeys) is more efficient than traditional live egg technology and has obtained impressive results in its clinical trials, what’s to say the virus is going to remain relatively stable in avian hosts (and in other mammals or humans), and will not mutate further ? It hasn’t remained stable so far. In fact, to date, nearly all of the world wide commercial poultry H5N1 vaccines have proven to be unreliable and in many instances, worthless. Thus, I think while the new Baxter monkey-cell manufacturing process is extremely promising in these clinical trials, where the rubber will actually hit-the-road is two fold: the need to acquire a sample of the live actual pandemic virus itself at the proper time, and having the ability to produce the vaccine in sufficient mega-humongous quantities, quickly, so it will do some good. Without infusing billions of dollars of federal money, the Baxter process might as well stay on the drawing board.

My final comment for the day is a response to your ProMED acticle regarding Professor Tang’s position that the average citizen doesn’t seem to be bright enough to self-test accurately with a reliable rapid H5N1 diagnostic test, or self medicate with Tamiflu. Every day for example, average citizens diagnose incredibly difficult automobile problems in garages, they man and support $ 50 billion aircraft carriers and subs with nuclear weapons, they self diagnose with pregnancy and blood sugar diabetes tests, and even plan complex missions to Mars, and make multi-trillion dollars decisions in the financial markets – and he says they aren’t capable enough to determine when to take Tamiflu ? Balderdash !

If the American SNS stockpile of anti-virals is left solely up to the federal government to decide how and when to distribute during a pandemic, we don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hades of ever dispensing the antiviral on any timely basis to do anybody any good. It’s that simple. It’s a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Heck man, the federal government still can’t locate all of the millions of dollars worth of contributed items for Katrina victims… and we are going to depend on the DHS and HHS to get these stockpiles of Tamiflu into our hands within 48 hours ? Right! …



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