Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 16 Flu Update

Australia claims to have developed a bird flu vaccine that will work against all strains, based on media reports.

The vaccine can be adjusted in a similar way that flu vaccines are changed throughout the year to combat new strains.

"I am very proud to be Health Minister in a country where we have this ingenuity on our shores," she said.

The vaccine can only be used once a pandemic is officially declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) but can be manufactured within weeks once a new strain is identified.

China is reporting an outbreak in a southern province among birds.

A man who cleans poultry markets in Hong Kong has the flu but Hong Kong says it is not H5N1.

Report by Canadian economists calls risk of pandemic flu in next five years "not trivial" urges companies to insure against the risk.

"The impact of a pandemic on employee absenteeism and its associated effects on lost revenues and incomes are also likely to be very significant," it concludes. "Firms cannot afford to ignore such risks for competitive, as well as legal and fiduciary reasons."

That's even more the case if their competitors are preparing themselves, the author of the study said.

Novartis withdrew its pre-pandemic vaccine from regulatory consideration in the EU, saying it could not supply required data in the timeframe required.

New Jersey is using the summer to prepare its pandemic flu plan.

The American Journal of Public Health writes about how hard-to-reach populations will be vaccinated for bird flu.

A story in Vietnam about scientists both domestic and foreign working together on bird flu.

CIDRAP has the story about Sanofi's donation to WHO. Includes links to press release, etc.


At 7:10 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your two articles about vaccines both have interesting twists to them: the Australian bird flu pandemic plan (i.e. based upon CSL’s Panvax) apparently has no provisions I could detect for “pre-priming their population” and the main strategy is to “keep the virus offshore for as long as possible”, while they “adjust it”. The European countries, on the other hand, had indeed planned to use Novartis’s Aflunov, for pre-pandemic immunization of their populations. Two different strategies for each, while the US has advocated both approaches in its planning. I truly hope the EMEA has a real viable backup plan, since Novartis has withdrawn its marketing application.

I see also that China has finally come out and announced a bird flu outbreak in their Guangdong poultry…now we know why there is an outbreak in Hong Kong. The distance from Hong Kong to Guangzhou is only 174 Kms. (Guangzhou is the capital and a sub-provincial city of Guangdong Province in the southern part of the People's Republic of China. The city is also known by an older English-language name, Canton) Buses and trains run daily between the two cities. There are also high-speed ferries which run regularly. You can take the direct train to Kowloon of Hong Kong from Guangzhou East Railway Station.The first Tourist Bus Line between Guangzhou and Hong Kong Disneyland has been opened. Now tourists can get to Hong Kong Disneyland from Yitai Square, Jiefang Bei Lu of Guangzhou. The likelihood of Guangdong poultry infecting Hong Kong wet markets ? Almost certainly this has occurred.

Your Canadian economists article which describes the risk of an influenza pandemic over the next five years, “not trivial” and further urges businesses to remember the SARS episode and make pandemic preparations now while there is a “window of opportunity to do so” – is right on the mark. Unfortunately, most people and business leaders attach very little concern to an “influenza epidemic” because of the proven ability of our health care systems in North America so far, to hold up to seasonal flu’s (even severe ones). However, they do not comprehend how a novel virus like H5N1 which has demonstrated far more lethality than SARS, could quickly (within weeks) overwhelm our vital supply systems and cripple our entire health infrastructure.

Even “marginalized groups”, as much as we distain the thought (drug abusers, undocumented immigrants, homeless people, prostitutes and pimps) will have to be vaccinated against a pandemic influenza: talk about unknown reservoirs of infection – these people epitomize the concept of a walking viral time bomb.



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