Monday, July 13, 2009

Ministry of Tourism in Malaysia to brain-storm on fears over A/H1N1

A two-day brain-storming session to tackle the Influenza A (H1N1) issue will be held by the Tourism Ministry of Malaysia today.

The ministry’s officers from 44 locations around the world would be attending the session and come up with strategies to allay fears of the virus and encourage more visitors to the country, said Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

“We need feedback to understand the real situation that we are in now,” Ng said after attending the “Loving Heart Cheongsam Night”, an event organised by the Federation of Hakka Association of Malaysia at the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here yesterday.

Ng said the ministry would collaborate with the Federation of Hakka Association to tap the federation’s vast network around the world.

A session with nine selected advertising agencies would also be held to discuss promotional strateties for the country.

“People are afraid to travel these days.

“Each time we lose 10% of our tourists, we will lose an income of RM4.9bil,” she said.

Ministry of Tourism in Malaysia to brain-storm on fears over A/H1N1

The Guardian: Swine flu strikes Downing Street – and almost reaches G8 summit

The first case of swine flu has struck Downing Street and it nearly caused a diplomatic crisis.

Gordon Brown's senior climate change adviser Michael Jacobs was banned from attending the G8 summit in Italy for fear he would pass the contagious disease to Barack Obama and other world leaders.

It is understood that Jacobs contracted the disease while involved in climate change talks in Mexico.

He had travelled to Rome for some preliminary negotiations on the draft of the G8 communique text, and was told by his personal doctor that he was no longer suffering from the disease. He then planned to travel to the conference site in L'Aquila, Italy, but was told by Brown that he could not risk him going.

The Guardian: Swine flu strikes Downing Street – and almost reaches G8 summit

Pandemic Information News: Swine flu vaccine production hits a snag: yield so far is 'less than optimal'

Swine flu vaccine production has hit a snag, with manufacturers reporting a disappointingly low yield when vaccines viruses are grown in eggs.

The World Health Organization says so far the yield for egg-based production is half or less what manufacturers get when they make vaccine to protect against seasonal H1N1 viruses. The lion's share of influenza vaccine is made by companies that grow the viruses in eggs.

New seed strains are being made in the hopes of increasing the vaccine yield, a report by the WHO's vaccine chief, Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny says.

But if the yield cannot be increased, it will slow the rate at which pandemic vaccine comes out of the production pipeline, adding to the time it takes to protect populations in countries like Canada that have purchased vaccine. And countries that haven't pre-ordered pandemic vaccine would face substantial delays before manufacturers have product to sell to them.

'There's nothing to suggest it will take longer to make vaccine, if in fact everything goes as planned. The question is: How much?' says Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

'There is nothing magical about making this virus. The questions will be: How much? When? and Where will it be available?'

The yield problem is revealed in presentations WHO staff made to last week's special meeting of the expert panel that advises the Geneva-based global health agency on vaccine issues.

Pandemic Information News: Swine flu vaccine production hits a snag: yield so far is 'less than optimal'

U.S. To Spend Another $1 Billion To Fight Swine Flu

The United States is ready to announce another $1 billion in orders for swine flu vaccinations.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she will announce Monday that Washington has approved another billion dollars to buy components of the vaccine.

Sebelius said on Sunday that research is under way to provide a safe and effective vaccine to fight a flu strain that could be a pandemic.

Sebelius and other top officials are bracing for fall's flu season.

She said leaders are watching the Southern Hemisphere for clues how serious the U.S. flu season might be.

Sebelius appeared on CNN's "State of the Union."

U.S. moves forward with preparations for H1N1 vaccination campaign

The Obama administration on Thursday said a nationwide vaccination program could begin as early as mid-October to protect Americans from the H1N1 (swine flu) virus and pledged $350 million to help prepare communities across the country for this effort.

"I think it's clear that although we were fortunate not to see a more serious situation in the spring when we first got news of this outbreak, the potential for a significant outbreak in the fall is looming," President Obama said, speaking by phone from the G8 summit in Italy to U.S. health officials who gathered in Maryland for a daylong flu summit organized by his Cabinet, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. "We want to make sure that we are not promoting panic, but we are promoting vigilance and preparation," he said.

"The White House has drawn up a battle plan for taking on the virus when influenza season returns to the northern hemisphere in several weeks' time," contingent on the development of a viable H1N1 vaccine. Clinical trials on the first H1N1 vaccine are scheduled to start next month, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "We know that a safe and effective vaccine is the best means of both preventing the disease in individuals and stopping the community spread of the virus," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

U.S. moves forward with preparations for H1N1 vaccination campaign