Friday, July 11, 2008

July 10 Flu Update

Terribly shocking news. Melanie (who has commented here), from Just a Bump in the Beltway, and one of the founders of the Flu Wiki has passed on unexpectedly. Revere and others post about it, here. Our condolences.

ProMed has a new report from Vietnam, and also a declaration that bird flu is endemic in Egypt.

China lifted a quarantine in Quandong.

More from Nature, and an editorial on the bird flu a few years on from its big bird flu issue.

CIDRAP on the story from Hong Kong on the waning avian vaccine. Also note that Egypt has belatedly filed some avian outbreaks going back a few months.

UWM scientists are contributing more work to identify the genetic structure of the virus.

More on work at Penn on a bird flu vaccine.

Indiana will be discussing its pandemic ethics plan coming up soon.


At 6:14 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Very sorry to hear the sad news about Ms. Mattson’s suddenly passing away. Like many others, I came across her many “Melanie” posts while perusing the internet news and commentaries and found them quite interesting. She will be missed I am sure.

It’s interesting when one reads the ProMED reports these days – there seems to be an admission (or inference) that in certain countries, namely Vietnam, Egypt, Indonesia, that the H5N1 virus is hopelessly endemic, and will remain so indefinitely. Further, your China View article entitled “Bird flu quarantine lifted in China’s Guangdong”, is very misleading in this regard: looked at the facts and read carefully and bird flu is widespread throughout nearly all of the mainland China provinces and regions. It is no wonder that Hong Kong poultry vaccines are being rendered ineffective, they probably don’t work in the mainland either. Eventually, the WHO will be forced to add China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the “endemic bird flu list”.

I found your Nature editorial article absolutely thought provoking and sadly prophetic in a sense: when are the governments of the world, the WHO and scientists going to start addressing the stark fact that it will be nearly impossible at the last minute to manufacture and deliver billions-upon-billions of pre-pandemic or perfectly-matched pandemic vaccine and syringes ? Without stockpiles of adequate pre-pandemic vaccine quantities in advance and ready to go, along with major manufacturing facilities on a “war basis” - there is no way in hell the manufacturer’s will be able to produce the humongous quantities of matched-vaccines and needles needed, and get the people inoculated in time to make any difference whatsoever. Six months to get a matched vaccine - ? – that’s a bunch of optimistic government boloney – more like a year or two at least, before sufficient quantities could be manufactured and delivered to make a difference. Heck, by that time, the influenza pandemic will have run three major cycles around the world, mutated further, and wreaked major havoc just like 1918.

Optimistic pandemic vaccine development news is always exciting (Ref: Penn State and U. of Wisconsin research news article) when scientific progress is truly made, whether it’s about commandeering genes or single DNA multi-vaccines, but unless the capacity to produce those new vaccines exist on a world-wide never-before-seen scale, everybody is just kidding themselves. It’s like designing the world’s fastest sports production car, and yet the engineering design never leaves the drawing board.

If you can’t get the vaccine out there in the hands of physician’s and nurses in a timely manner to make a difference – then the worst is likely to happen. The situation is also comparable to the out-of-control forest fires going on in California at the present time: if you have 1,500 fires occurring simultaneously, the firefighters have one heckuva battle on their hands, they are running out of resources and they will ultimately have to depend upon nature’s rainstorms to help squash it. The only antiviral resources we will truly have available for a pandemic at this time, is Tamifu and Relenza, and they will act only as “back fires”, and may not work at all.

The result of an influenza pandemic without a matched vaccine and a properly pre-primed population, will be no different than the exhausting and devastating wild fire scenario’s we are seeing in the western part of the United States.

There is simply no feasible way to put out all of the hotspot fires that pop up.



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