Monday, September 7, 2009

More on Swine Flu with videos!

Here's an interview from the head of the CDC

Stating that what we've seen from this variety of H1N1 in the USA and around the world shows we won't have the 90,000 death toll "if the virus doesn't change"

keep in mind from our past experience with influenza pandemics and epidemics we can reasonably predict:

In their commentary in the Aug. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, David M. Morens, M.D., and Jeffery K. Taubenberger, M.D., Ph.D., note that the two other flu pandemics of the 20th century, those of 1957 and 1968, generally showed no more than a single seasonal recurrence; and in each case, the causative virus did not become significantly more pathogenic over the early years of its circulation.
The variable track record of past flu pandemics makes predicting the future course of 2009 H1N1 virus, which first emerged in the Northern Hemisphere in the spring of 2009, difficult. The authors contend that characteristics of the novel H1N1 virus, such as its modest transmission efficiency, and the possibility that some people have a degree of pre-existing immunity give cause to hope for a more indolent pandemic course and fewer deaths than in many past pandemics.


Word from an infamous physician skeptic of mass flu vaccination Dr. Tom Jefferson one of the leaders within Cochrane , more about Cochrane at a later date

The second fellow, I don't know who he is but he brings up good points about how we can not know the effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine without many months of testing; what will be labeled as testing will be antibody studies ; as far as safety testing goes, well that'll have to come from post mass vaccination surveillance ie the population at large are the test cases

the news folks in the second interview attempt to put the doc in the same basket with autism/mmr folks and otherwise change the subject; and the good doctor throws in the US experience with swine flu vaccination programs back in the 70s but the disease he mentioned (Guillain-Barré Syndrome) it's unclear whether the flu shot caused that or not so everyone in that room is a little guilty of spin (in my humble opinion)

It would make a lot of sense to vaccinate folks at high risk of dying or getting severely ill from the swine flu just as we recommend with regular seasonal flu; it is interesting to note that our vast experience with the seasonal flu shots shows that the benefits are still rather vague and controversial. More on that in another post; mustn't get side tracked


Just for nostalgia, here's some old commercials from the last swine flu scare


There are a couple interesting pieces of legislation being batted around re the swine flu

and don't ask me to interpret this next one but i've read interpretations that say this Mass Senate bill authorizes imprisonment and fines for people refusing vaccinations during a declared state of emergency

(CBS) Federal officials say schools should become distribution centers of H1N1 vaccine shots this fall, an idea that has created some controversy.


more from good ole Doctor Jefferson , this is a really good overview of influenza vaccinations in general,1518,637119,00.html

Jefferson: Not particularly good. An influenza vaccine is not working for the majority of influenza-like illnesses because it is only designed to combat influenza viruses. For that reason, the vaccine changes nothing when it comes to the heightened mortality rate during the winter months. And, even in the best of cases, the vaccine only works against influenza viruses to a limited degree. Among other things, there is always the danger that the flu virus in circulation will have changed by the time that the vaccine product is finished with the result that, in the worst case, the vaccine will be totally ineffectual. In the best of cases, the few decent studies that exist show that the vaccine mainly works with healthy young adults. With children and the elderly, it only helps a little, if at all.


Yeah, by the way, our rapid flu tests aren't terribly accurate.

Profits from the Swine Flu

New York Times from 7/23/09 article detailing the sales of Tamiflu

Roche, based in Switzerland, said Thursday that sales of Tamiflu in the first half of 2009 tripled to 1 billion Swiss francs ($931 million), spurred by retail sales and the stockpiling of the drug by governments and corporations.
For the second quarter alone, Tamiflu sales reached 609 million francs ($567 million), more than 12 times the level of the second quarter of 2008. The second quarter, from April to June, is not usually a heavy season for flu.


Still, Mr. Schwan said that Roche, in cooperation with outside contractors, would increase its manufacturing capacity to 400 million packs a year by the beginning of 2010, about four times the current capacity.
He said that should be an ample volume, given that the company sold a total of only 300 million packs during the last five years — a period that encompassed a bird flu scare as well as the current swine flu outbreak.


But back in 2008, things weren't looking so hot for Roche

The Losers
Meanwhile, sales of influenza treatment Tamiflu (oseltamivir) plummeted by a whopping 64% y/y. The plunge is explained both by a high baseline for the first quarter of 2007 and slowing demand as government stockpiles near completion (see Switzerland: 12 October 2007: Roche Braced for Tamiflu Sales Slowdown as Government Stockpiles Reach Saturation)


Roche can make money off Tamiflu AND rapid flu tests


But it does cost money for Roche


here's a press release from Roche disguised as a news story on the front page of yahoo news