A Big Number

WHO proclaimed a stunning figure late last week…by their estimate, roughly two billion people could become infected with the H1N1 (swine flu) virus or around a third of the population of the world.  The update went on to note:

  1. No precise estimate of current infections
  2. High proportion of southern hemisphere flu cases are H1N1
  3. WHO to update on vaccine efforts this week
Eople Queue At A Swine Flu Examination Center  In Bangalore India On Monday
People queue at a swine flu examination center in Bangalore India on Monday

“By the end of a pandemic, anywhere between 15-45 percent of a population will have been infected by the new pandemic virus,” WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi said, adding that 30 percent, or 2 billion people worldwide, is the mid point of that estimate. “But the estimate comes with a big health warning: no one knows how many people so far have caught the new strain … and the final number will never be known as many cases are so mild they may go unnoticed,” the news service writes


More Tamiflu Resistance Reported

Health officials raised the alarm about a strain of swine flu that is  resistant to the Tamiflu treatment as the virus continues its march around the globe. 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.

Parent Collecting Tamiflu At A School In Southeast London, A School Closed Due To H1N1
Parent Collecting Tamiflu at a School in Southeast London, A School Closed Due to H1N1

Experts had gathered in La Jolla, California 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 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.

PRO> ProMED Digest V2009 #369 – www.promedmail.org

Vaccine Trials

Novartis has started human testing of H1N1 swine flu vaccine candidates while Sanofi-Aventis, will commence within days, company officials said early last week. The launch of clinical trials is a key part of a widening program of work being undertaken by big pharmaceutical companies as the prepare for mass vaccination from next month. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), 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. 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.

In case you are counting the total number of doses that may be made using the normal production means is around a billion doses per year.  How these doses are distributed around the world has yet to be determined.

Kaiser Family Foundation http://globalhealth.kff.org/Daily-Reports/2009/August/05/GH-080509-Swine-Flu.aspx