One Big Wave?
The is no first wave slump anywhere this summer in the Northern Hemisphere… Places like the UK has continued to see expanding cases. Millions of patients overwhelmed a new telephone and online service yesterday to obtain swine flu treatment without seeing a doctor as the number of cases doubled in a week.
The National Pandemic Flu Service, which offers callers or internet users a prescription code for antiviral drugs if they have symptoms, was experiencing “unprecedented demand”, with 9.3 million hits every hour. The website crashed within minutes of going live at 3pm but was later restored. By 5pm it was receiving the equivalent of 2,600 hits per second. The Government said that it was increasing capacity for the site.
Interesting case news from the UK
- Swine flu is at epidemic levels in many areas, with the under-14s — described as “super-spreaders” by the Chief Medical Officer — the worst hit. About 100,000 people in England were infected with the H1N1 virus in the week to Sunday compared with 55,000 cases the previous week;
- 16 per cent of those with swine flu who have died were described as fully “healthy”. A further 17 per cent had conditions regarded as moderate such as diabetes or high blood pressure;
- Vodafone could make millions of pounds by charging 20p a minute for calls to the 0800 hotline number;
- The Church of England issued an unprecedented order to suspend “sharing of the chalice” at Communion.
Doctors are concerned that this new service may cause the overprescribing of Tamiflu, the main antiviral drug being used to treat symptoms. Gordon Brown said that the service was required to take the burden off frontline health staff. “We know that for people to be treated in the first 24 to 48 hours makes a real difference,” he said.
A total of 840 people in England hospitalized with the flu after contracting the virus; 63 are in a critical condition. The official death toll across Britain remains low at 30.
Europe Fast Tracking H1N1 Vaccine
Other news from across the pond…In a drive to inoculate people against swine flu before winter, many European governments say they will fast-track the testing of a vaccine, arousing concern among some experts about safety and proper doses.
The European Medicines Agency, the EU’s top drug regulatory body, is accelerating the approval process for swine flu vaccine, and countries such as Britain, Greece, France and Sweden say they’ll start using the vaccine after it’s greenlighted — possibly within weeks.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization’s flu chief, warned about the potential dangers of untested vaccines, although he stopped short of criticizing Europe’s approach outright.
“One of the things which cannot be compromised is the safety of vaccines,” he said Friday. “There are certain areas where you can make economies, perhaps, but certain areas where you simply do not try to make any economies.”