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News Reports for November 22, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 21:42:23 PM EST


Reminder: Please do not post whole articles, just snippets and links, and do not post articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Thanks!

Canada
• Flu shot policy for health-care workers sparks backlash (Link)

United States
• CIDRAP: CDC reports jump in flu activity (Link)
• CIDRAP: FDA clears first cell-based flu vaccine (Link)
• CA: 1st influenza death reported this season (Link)

Research
• How tobacco could save our lives (Link)

General
• CIDRAP: WHO announces new reporting plan for human H5N1 cases (Link)
• Roche manuevers to cut off boycott of flu drug Tamiflu (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for November 22, 2012

News for November 21, 2012 is here.


Thanks to all of the newshounds!
Special thanks to the newshound volunteers who translate international stories - thanks for keeping us all informed!

Other useful links:
WHO A(H1N1) Site
WHO H5N1 human case totals, last updated August 10, 2012
Charts and Graphs on H5N1 from WHO
Google Flu Trends
CDC Weekly Influenza Summary
Map of seasonal influenza in the U.S.
CIDPC (Canada) Weekly FluWatch
UK RCGP Weekly Data on Communicable and Respiratory Diseases
Flu Wiki

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How tobacco could save our lives
Tobacco is not commonly associated with good health, but the plant could one day help prevent pandemic flu. Canadian biopharmaceutical company Medicago is 'programming' tobacco plants with the genetic sequences of infectious diseases to produce virus-like particles to 'grow' highly effective vaccines at scale.

Yesterday, Medicago announced the results of an NIH study wherein its plant-based avian flu vaccine protected mice against the virus in a single dose (today's vaccines take two). Virus-like particles (VLP) stimulate different immune pathways than traditional immunizations, because they so closely mimic the flu, explained CEO Andy Sheldon. The immune reaction to VLPs is superior and safeguards against mutations that could occur after a pandemic has already struck, he added.

Plants are living systems that can produce proteins that are useful as both vaccinations and drugs, Sheldon explained. VLPs are not infectious, and can be "harvested" at high yields. The company produced more than 10 million doses of pandemic influenza in one month at a North Carolina facility last summer at the behest of U.S. government. That exercise established the scalability and capital costs of the technology, which is comparable with egg-based vaccines, Sheldon said.

Medicago expects to receive FDA approval for its avian flu vaccine in 2016, and will be seeking capacity reservation contracts with governments for stockpiling against a pandemic. It will start off starting season flus, but world health officials are seeking to safeguard against avian flu due to its high mortality rate, Sheldon noted. Avian flu is currently in the wild, and a single mutation could make it highly contagious. Continued: http://www.smartplanet.com/blo...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown

     


Great news...
After 25 years, I quit smoking almost a year ago. Cold turkey. My mind and body have finally adjusted to not wanting to stand in the middle of a hurricane just to get my nicotine fix. And now these guys are telling me that tobacco might save my life someday.
Perfect.  :-/

[ Parent ]
I knew that was coming....
so that is why I have kept right on smoking. I've fallen in love with every cigarette I ever looked at. LOL

No lectures from the audience, please! LOL

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown

     


[ Parent ]
US: 1st influenza death reported this season (California)
SAN DIEGO - An 89-year-old woman died from influenza - the first reported death in San Diego County of this year's flu season  - and county health officials Wednesday encouraged residents to get vaccinated against the disease.

Influenza could turn serious or deadly,especially for the elderly ,infants and those with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

"This death serves as a reminder that influenza, regardless of what type, can be deadly," county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. "The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated. It is not too late to be immunized. Continued: http://fox5sandiego.com/2012/1...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown

     


CIDRAP: CDC reports jump in flu activity
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that flu activity increased last week, with the first state - Mississippi - reporting widespread geographic activity  (Snip)  states in the south central and southeastern areas are seeing elevated flu activity levels, and it urged people (Snip) to be vaccinated now.

The number of respiratory specimens that tested positive for flu rose to 13.2% from 7.5% the previous week.

(Snip) the percentage of doctor visits for flulike illness rose slightly, from 1.2% to 1.6%, and the percentage of deaths from pneumonia and flu rose slightly but was still below the epidemic threshold at 6.6%.

One pediatric flu death was reported, attributed to an H3 virus and raising the season's total to two. Six states (Alabama, Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, New York and Ohio) reported regional geographic spread, an increase from four reported the previous week. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Nov 21 CDC flu update http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Nov 21 CDC flu situation update http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown

     


CIDRAP: FDA clears first cell-based flu vaccine
Nov 21, 2012 (CIDRAP News) - The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday approved the nation's first cell-based flu vaccine, a product from Novartis that uses technology that could help vaccinate more Americans in a pandemic but still has many of the same limitations of older egg-based flu vaccines.

The approval marks a milestone in federal efforts to improve vaccine technology, because cell-based production is thought to be more flexible and faster than the decades-old method of growing flu vaccine in chicken eggs.

The development of Flucelvax involved major federal investments in not only the vaccine itself, but also in the facility the company will soon use to produce future doses for the US market.

In a press release yesterday, the FDA said the vaccine, an inactivated product, is grown in mammalian cells and that cell-culture technology has already been used for decades to produce other US-licensed vaccines, such those against polio and rubella. The agency said Flucelvax is approved to prevent seasonal flu in people ages 18 and older.

Andrin Oswald, divisional head of Novartis Vaccines in Diagnostics, said in a statement from the company yesterday, "the approval of Flucelvax is an important milestone for our influenza franchise and brings an innovative vaccine to the US."

A flu vaccine expert from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, however, called it an incremental improvement and not the dramatic novel-antigen vaccine the country needs. CIDRAP publishes CIDRAP News. Continued: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown

     


CIDRAP: WHO announces new reporting plan for human H5N1 cases
The World Health Organization (WHO) is changing the way it reports human cases of H5N1 avian influenza (Snip). Cases will be included in a monthly report titled Influenza at Human-Animal Interface - Monthly Risk Assessment Summary.

Cases will not be reported in WHO's Disease Outbreak News (Snip) unless they are unusual or associated with potential increased risks. The requirement of WHO's member states to report human H5N1 cases continues unchanged (Snip).

WHO notice: http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/...

Influenza at Human-Animal Interface - Monthly Risk Assessment Summary http://www.who.int/influenza/h...

(Note: WHO does some of the damn stupidest things imaginable! Delaying reporting on outbreaks or human cases makes no sense to anyone but the idiots who came up with this idea. We need up to date information, especially on human cases. Of course, this is my own personal opinion.)

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown

     


Agreed!
Yeah, talk about "letting yourself off the hook"...! I hope some group pushes a Freedom of Information type suit to get the info, and then releases it to the public.

Anyway, for those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for FluWiki and all its members!!


[ Parent ]
I thought it WHO had been unusually quiet about H5N1 cases
Well, it's back to news-hounding, just like in the "bad old days" when Indonesia was refusing to report H5N1 cases.

[ Parent ]
Canada: Flu shot policy for health-care workers sparks backlash
Globe and Mail:
...the move by B.C authorities to force more than 100,000 public health-care workers to be vaccinated against influenza, or wear a mask - the first province to do so - has provoked bitter controversy, as the Dec. 1 needle deadline nears.

The BC Nurses' Union has filed a union grievance against the policy, a well-known international health researcher has lashed out at public-health officers here as tyrants, and others have argued there is not enough scientific evidence to justify such a move.


Note: BC is British Columbia -- west coast.

Roche manuevers to cut off boycott of flu drug Tamiflu
LONDON (Reuters) - Roche has offered an olive branch to scientific critics in a bid to end a bitter row over blockbuster flu drug Tamiflu that has led to calls for a boycott of the Swiss drugmaker's products.

Tamiflu has been approved by regulators worldwide and stockpiled by many governments in case of a global outbreak - but some researchers claim there is little evidence it works and have lobbied since 2009 for Roche to hand over all its data from clinical trials.

Sales of the drug hit close to $3 billion in 2009, due to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, although they have since declined.

Roche's pharmaceuticals head said on Thursday he had written to the Cochrane Collaboration, a non-profit group that reviews trial data to assess the value of drugs, offering to set up a multi-party advisory board to review all the Tamiflu data.

The board of experts from academia and private institutions, including Cochrane critics, would then agree on what analyses were useful in assessing Tamiflu's public health role.

"We think that would be an appropriate, fair and transparent way of handling this debate," Daniel O'Day said in an interview.

O'Day said complete transparency had to be balanced against the need to protect patient privacy, respect commercial sensitivity and ensure the scientific merit of any statistical analysis.

He stopped short of matching a promise from rival GlaxoSmithKline to make patient-level data from all company-sponsored clinical trials available on a routine basis.

Roche said it had not handed over the full collection of data requested by Cochrane because the group refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Cochrane, meanwhile, has accused Roche of stonewalling and urged a boycott of the company's products until it publishes the missing data. Its campaign to force Roche's hand has been backed by the respected British Medical Journal.

EU AGENCY PROMISES OPENNESS

The new attempt by Roche to break the deadlock comes as regulators and healthcare experts meet in London to discuss ways to increase transparency over clinical trials.

As Reuters reported in July, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) aims to open its data vaults to systematic scrutiny, after a ruling by the European Ombudsman that keeping data secret is not compatible with the public interest.

Guido Rasi, executive director of the EMA, told the London meeting on Thursday that the question now was "how" to publish clinical trials data not "if" it should be released.

The move puts the EMA ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in terms of data transparency. Continued: http://medcitynews.com/2012/11...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown

     


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