THE POLITICS OF H1N1 VACCINE – ALL DEPENDS ON WHO AND WHERE YOU ARE
As I have traveled in Asia I have seen the two sides of the spectrum – complete anxiety and total compliancy amongst the citizens. Most believe that if this is to be a big medical problem – that a medical miracle will rush in at the last minute to save us…well, it depends on where you live…and even then, the most affluent will have to wait. As you read the numbers below, remember that there are 6.78 billion people on this fragile planet.***
French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis, which is presently testing its H1N1 vaccine on humans, said it was well on track to make available the vaccine against swine flu by October. While 100 million doses of the vaccine will first go to the World Health Organization (WHO) as a donation from the company, 50 million doses will go straight to the US. A further 28 million doses will then be available to France and some other European countries by mid-November.
Sanofi-Aventis has stated that the company is undertaking trials of the vaccine on 3,000 humans. A company spokesperson noted that, “The safety of the vaccine is not in question as we have already tested the virus seed. The trial is actually to see what will be the dosage of the vaccine. While one of our manufacturing units in Pennsylvania is working on the production of the pandemic vaccine, the other two units in US and Normandy (France) are working on vaccines against seasonal flu.
So has India shown any interest in booking its share of the vaccine? “Not as yet, at least with us,” said Chris Viehbacher, Sanofi-Aventis CEO, who met health minister in Delhi on Wednesday. “The government is presently looking at its options and identifying priority populations. It is trying to understand when Indian manufacturers will be ready with their own H1N1 vaccine,” Viehbacher added.
How many doses can they make?
So how many doses of the vaccine can Sanofi make? “In 12 months, we can make 180 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine. In case of the vaccine against H1N1, the number could be three times that minimally,” Viehbacher said. “Even after people are vaccinated, they should be aware they are not immediately protected. The immune response from a vaccine takes about two weeks to develop,” a scientist said.
With India’s indigenous H1N1 vaccine not expected to be ready before March 2010, the Indian ministry is talking to four global vaccine manufacturers — Novartis, CSL, Sanofi Pasteur and Baxter — whose candidate vaccines are undergoing trials.
So the net-net of this report – there will be NO vaccine available in India this fall and winter.
CALIFORNIA – ONE IN FOUR WILL GET SICK FROM H1N1 THIS FALL
California’s state health officer said today that one in four Californians might be affected by swine flu this fall. Dr. Mark Horton made the prediction in a letter to Californians released August 27 by the California Department of Public Health. “All of us must prepare for the disruptions the novel H1N1 influenza virus may have on our daily lives,” Horton said in a letter to all Californians.
Horton’s letter is the latest warning to be issued by public health officials about H1N1, commonly known as swine flu. Last week, top national and local health officials warned that employers should brace for worker absences and cautioned the public that as many as three shots this season may be needed to protect against the H1N1 strain and seasonal flu.
California health officials said the combination of H1N1 and the regular flu season could strain the state’s healthcare system. Emergency rooms are often filled to capacity during bad flu seasons, but the addition of H1N1 could make the situation even worse. Hospitals are already looking at creating alternate care sites to handle flu patients and plan a public education campaign imploring those with mild flu symptoms to avoid ERs.
CHICAGO H1N1 EXPERIENCE – BLACK AND LATINOS MORE AT RISK? UNDERLYING CONDITIONS
In the early stages of the pandemic H1N1 influenza outbreak in Chicago, blacks and Latinos were about four times more likely than Caucasians to contract the virus, according to the first study that has examined the racial composition of those who caught the flu. Children were also 14 times as likely as the elderly to contract the virus, according to a report from the Chicago Department of Public Health in today’s edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Despite the figures, CDC officials said it is unlikely that there is any genetic factor underlying the increased susceptibility. Rather, both blacks and Latinos suffer from higher rates of asthma, diabetes and other medical conditions that make them more susceptible to the new virus, commonly known as swine flu.
Illinois and Wisconsin had an unusually high incidence of laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu, surprising because of their distance from Mexico, the initial focus of the outbreak. But both states had aggressive laboratory testing programs and most likely simply detected a higher number of cases that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Today’s report showed 1,557 laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic H1N1 virus in Chicago in the 14 weeks ending July 25. Children ages 5 to 14 had the highest infection rate, 147 cases per 100,000 population — 14 times higher than that for adults over the age of 60. Previous studies have shown that the elderly, who are normally the primary victims of seasonal flu, may have some resistance to the new virus because of previous exposures to swine-related flu viruses. A total of 205 patients were hospitalized, about 13% of those infected. Children up to 4 years old had the highest hospitalization rate, 25 per 100,000, followed by those aged 5 to 14 at 11 per 100,000.
Blacks were hospitalized at a rate of nine per 100,000 and Latinos at eight per 100,000, compared to the rate of two per 100,000 in Caucasians. Earlier this month, Boston public health authorities released some preliminary information suggesting that blacks and Latinos accounted for three-quarters of hospitalizations in that city. But Dr. Dan Jernigan of the CDC noted that the early stages of the epidemic struck neighborhoods rather randomly, and the outcomes might be due simply to chance — as well as the higher rate of underlying disease in those populations.
Among the 205 hospitalized patients, 40 were admitted to the intensive care unit and nine required mechanical ventilation. Fourteen of the hospitalized patients were pregnant, one of whom died after giving birth by caesarean section. Among the 177 hospitalized patients for whom information was available, 37 (21%) had a previous diagnosis of asthma and 13 (7%) had a diagnosis of diabetes.