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New H1N1 Update

Friday, October 29, 2010 // Uncategorized

8/6/2009 9:15:30 PM

I will postpone the ovarian cancer screening blog to give an update on H1N1 flu.

1.Seasonal flu vaccine doesn’t seem to offer any protection based on studies done in Australia.  Having said that, our first seasonal flu vaccine shipments are being shipped.  That is great news!

2. When the H1N1 vaccine becomes available this Fall it will be given to high risk groups first.  We still don’t know who will be administering the vaccine or who will pay for it.

The following is a list of the five groups who will be vaccinated first.

ACIP Recommends Five Groups as Priority Targets for H1N1 Vaccination

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended which U.S. population groups should be targeted to receive H1N1 influenza vaccine when it becomes available. People over 65 have the lowest priority.

The 15-member ACIP says these five groups should be targeted:

  • pregnant women;
  • household contacts of infants under 6 months;
  • healthcare and emergency-services workers;
  • young people between 6 months and 24 years of age;
  • and nonelderly adults with underlying risk conditions, such as diabetes and chronic lung disease.

The five groups comprise about 160 million people, about half the U.S. population.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, who directs the CDC’s center for immunization, said at a press conference that people over 65 received ACIP’s lowest priority for H1N1 vaccination because the virus “has, to a large extent, spared that population.” She emphasized, however, the importance of ensuring that the elderly receive the seasonal flu vaccine.

For those who are information junkies, the following is an extended exerpt from ProMed Digest.  It highlights the perils of indescriminate Tamiflu use.

WHO holds 2 billion people could catch H1N1
– ——————————————-
Health officials raised the alarm about a strain of swine flu that is
resistant to the Tamiflu treatment as the virus claimed more lives on
Tuesday [4 Aug 2009], with Viet Nam reporting its 1st fatal case.
India and South Africa both reported their 1st deadly cases of the
A(H1N1) virus late Monday [3 Aug 2009]. Maria Teresa Cerqueira, head
of the Pan-American Health Organization office in La Jolla,
California, said a Tamiflu-resistant mutation of A(H1N1) [the
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus] had been found around the
US-Mexico border in El Paso and close to McAllen, Texas. Experts had
gathered in La Jolla, California, on Monday to discuss responses to
the outbreak, and warned that resistant strains were likely emerging
because of overuse of antivirals like Tamiflu. “In the United States
Tamiflu is sold with a prescription, but in Mexico and Canada it is
sold freely and taken at the 1st sneeze. Then, when it is really
needed, it doesn’t work,” said Cerqueira late Monday. Cases of
A(H1N1) that were resistant to the anti-viral medicine have now been
found in the United States, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong and Japan.

As the northern hemisphere autumn approaches, and with it the onset
of seasonal flu, the WHO is working with drug companies to ensure
vaccines to cope both with H1N1 and seasonal flu will be available.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said the agency hoped to give an update
on its vaccine plans later this week. Leading flu vaccine makers
include Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis , Baxter, GlaxoSmithKline and Solvay.

Novartis has started human testing of H1N1 swine flu vaccine
candidates while Sanofi-Aventis, the world leader in flu shots, will
commence within days, company officials said on Tuesday [4 Aug 2009].
The launch of clinical trials is a key part of a widening programme
of work being undertaken by big pharmaceutical companies as they
prepare for mass vaccination from next month. GlaxoSmithKline, the
other “big 3” flu vaccine supplier, said it would initiate clinical
studies later this month. Healthcare officials are relying on a
vaccine to contain the spread of disease, providing a potential sales
windfall for those companies that are able to deliver quickly and in
large volume.

Australia’s CSL has so far been the fastest commercial operator,
after starting its 1st clinical trials in Australia 2 weeks ago. Now
others are catching up. “We started a little over a week ago,”
Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff said by telephone from Basel. Benoit
Rungeard, product communications director for Sanofi Pasteur, the
vaccines division of the French drugmaker, told Reuters his company
would start “in the coming days or next week.” Althoff said
Swiss-based Novartis was conducting its clinical trials in a number
of countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany, and
was testing both single and booster, or repeat, doses of vaccines.
Novartis, in common with other manufacturers, will also compare
vaccines with and without adjuvants — ingredients that boost the
immune system response. AstraZeneca, whose MedImmune unit makes
smaller amounts of a flu vaccine that is sprayed into the nose rather
than injected, said it would start clinical trials in the United!
States around 17 Aug 2009.

Meanwhile, a Taiwanese biotech company on Tuesday [4 Aug 2009]
started mass production of a swine flu vaccine before even completing
clinical trials, in a bid to get a jump before the start of the
winter flu season. Adimmune Corp, the island’s only human vaccine
manufacturer, said it was starting production at its plant in central
Taichung. The company is due to deliver 5 million doses of A(H1N1)
influenza vaccine before the end of October [2009], according to the
purchase contract it has signed with the government, said deputy CEO
and president Ignatius Wei. The company says it has completed some
animal trials of the vaccine, but will only begin human trials in
September — sparking criticism about the risks of manufacturing an
as-yet unproven product. But Huang Li-min, a doctor at National
Taiwan University Hospital who will oversee the human trials, says
Adimmune is taking a calculated risk. “They have to do so… they are
racing against time,” Huang told AFP, referring to the upcoming start
of flu season. “There may be a risk for the company, but the risk is
small to an experienced company,” he said.

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