Sunday, October 09, 2005

Researchers vs. bird flu: the race is on

...and the virus is winning. Times Online:
As the H5N1 virus moved closer to Europe yesterday with suspected cases among poultry in Turkey, The Times has learnt that urgent studies into improved vaccines are being held up because the Government is stalling over financial support. The Department of Health has yet to respond to detailed proposals submitted by British virologists almost eight months ago, even though the work is widely acknowledged to be desperately needed to create vaccines.

Flu experts said that the delay was unacceptable when vaccine development should be every country’s priority for health research...

A vaccine against H5N1 flu, which has infected 115 people and killed 60 in South-East Asia, will be critical to containing a pandemic if the virus starts to move from person to person. A candidate vaccine has been developed by Sanofi Pasteur, a French pharmaceutical company, but trials in the US have shown that it confers immunity only at very high doses, which must be four times stronger than conventional flu shots.

Without substantial improvements to the vaccine, it will be possible to cover only about 75 million of the world’s population of 6 billion people, even if every conventional factory is switched to make the new jab.
My grandmother had frightening memories of the last flu pandemic. She told of her shock when infected friends died rapidly, and that she was afraid to go outdoors. Eighty-seven years later, we're still ill-prepared...

I see that one Medlog blog is devoted entirely to bird flu news and links: Bird Flu Watch, by "independent researcher Dave Roberts." Unfortunately, it has some characteristics of a link farm (no comments - I think I posted the first one - and lots of ads). But one can learn about the disease on this site.


Blogger Keith, RN said...

It is indeed frightening. If you read the work of Laurie Garrett ("The Coming Plague", for example) you will see that many public health experts have been waiting for the inevitable pandemic to race around the planet with unprecedented speed and efficiency. Seems like our national budget could be spent much more wisely on public health rather than the elusive homeland security so often bandied about.

For now, wash those hands and hope for the best....

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Flu Wiki website is trying to keep the layman up to speed.

Informational, despite some tinfoil-hat-ish content.

1:09 PM  

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