July 9 Flu UpdateArticle covers DNA vaccines from a PharmTech perspective.
CIDRAP covers the Purdue story on problems in planning for a pandemic.
A message the researchers heard from all the counties was that flu patients would not be the only demand on healthcare organizations during a pandemic. Officials said other healthcare needs would continue, such as trauma, childbirth, and medical emergencies. Consequently, not all beds could be allocated to flu patients, and hospitals will need to take steps to prevent flu from spreading to other patients.
In the face of this reality, "Almost all counties were giving consideration to altered standards of care to stretch resources, but were wary of this option due to liability concerns and lack of statutory protection from malpractice claims, a concern heightened by lack of guidance from state and federal governments," the report states.
There are other reasons to worry less about bird flu. The media has repeatedly said that a pandemic is 'overdue' or even 'long overdue'. This claim is not based on any virological dictum, but simply on the historical pattern of outbreaks – one every 10 to 15 years or so from 1918 to 1977 and then a pregnant pause until now. But in fact the longer H5N1 'tries', the less likely it is to succeed in adapting into a human-transmissible type.
Some scientists now believe H5N1 has had its chance. A virus is not like a volcano, where pressure may build up gradually, leading to an eventual eruption. And a continued non-outbreak doesn't make a future outbreak more likely or more deadly.
Effect Measure blogs this, too, noting that Nature is looking at its special bird flu issue three years ago. It was chilling--included a fictional blog from a healthcare professional during a pandemic.
Although bird flu has since faded from the front pages, media coverage in fact remains sustained and high, as can be seen from a timeline search of the Google News archive.
Local committee in North Dakota is presenting is pandemic plan later today.