Thursday, November 19, 2009

Next Gen Pharma: Lower dose of H1N1 vaccine may be enough

With flu season hotting up, debate over the use of Influenza A (H1N1) vaccines continues to divide opinion. Now, Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis has announced that half of the currently-approved US dose actually fulfils immune response criteria for adults and the elderly.

Novatis' announcement is based on new interim data from ongoing clinical trials, and shows how a single 3.75µg dose of MF59-adjuvanted A(H1N1) 2009 vaccine met serologic protection criteria against influenza A(H1N1) in children ages three to eight, adults ages 18 to 64, and the elderly.

As such, the pharmaceutical firm is now in discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is set to perfrom additional analysis suggested by the agency.

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Next Gen Pharma: Lower dose of H1N1 vaccine may be enough

Fear of needle drives people away from H1N1 shots

The very word needle seems to petrify some people, as much as the sight of one sliding into the skin.

Experts believe this fear of needles may be preventing people from rolling up their sleeves for the H1N1 shots.

'Pain and the actual fear of getting the injection is often the barrier that prevents people from getting the vaccine,' said psychologist Christine Chambers, based at Dalhousie University.

Concerned that students who are making health decisions for themselves may be bypassing immunization for H1N1 because of their fear of needles, Chambers assures there are things they can do to reduce pain.

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Fear of needle drives people away from H1N1 shots

Reuters: China's official H1N1 death count suspect

China may have had more H1N1 flu deaths than have been reported, with some local governments possibly concealing suspect cases, a prominent Chinese medical expert said in an interview published on Thursday.

Zhong Nanshan, a doctor based in the far southern province of Guangdong, said he doubted the current official death toll from the influenza strain, also called 'swine flu', that has medical experts worldwide worried.

'I just don't believe that nationwide there have been in all 53 H1N1 deaths,' Zhong told the Southern Metropolis Daily, a popular Guangdong newspaper.

Zhong said that 'some areas have not been testing deaths from severe (pneumonia) and treating them as cases of ordinary pneumonia without a question,' the paper reported.

Zhong is respected by many people in China for his candour and work in fighting 'severe acute respiratory syndrome' (SARS) in 2003, when nationwide panic and international alarm erupted after it emerged that officials hid or underplayed the spreading epidemic.

China, the world's most populous country, has reported 28 new H1N1 deaths in the last week during a cold snap across much of the country, the Ministry of Health said on its website (

The latest national death tally issued on Monday on the same website showed 53 death cases.

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Reuters: China's official H1N1 death count suspect

Ukraine Dead Increase to 344

1,502,345 Influenza/ARI
85,904 Hospitalized
344 Dead

The above tally is from the latest update from the Ukraine Ministry of health. The 344 dead represents an increase of 16 from yesterday's total, which is similar to recent daily increases. The steady climb in fatal cases highlights the importance of the release of sequences by Mill Hill a WHO regional center in London.

Included in the sequences from 10 isolates were four HA sequences with the receptor binding domain change, D225G, which was found in the one throat and three lung samples. The change was not found in isolates from nasopharyngeal washes, suggesting D225G may lead to high concentrations of H1N1 in patient's lungs. The high concentration of virus leads to a cytokine storm that destroys the lungs in a few days.

The finding of D225G in lung tissues raises concerns rergarding sequencing of isolates from nasopharyngeal swabs. The monitoring of this important genetic change in the receptor binding domain may require sampling of lung tissues or fluids.

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Ukraine Dead Increase to 344 - Sequences Released

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports:
Austria is sending Ukraine nearly 500,000 face masks, 150,000 pairs of protective gloves and 3000 bottles of disinfectant to combat Mexican flu, also known as swine flu.
Ukraine has been badly hit by the flu and over the weekend it called on neighbouring countries for help.

AP: 1.5M per day getting swine flu vaccine in China

China's health minister said Wednesday his country is vaccinating 1.5 million people a day against swine flu, part of a mammoth effort to reach nearly 7 percent of inhabitants of the world's most populous country by year's end.

Chen Zhu told The Associated Press that more than 50 million Chinese have been immunized so far.

He also defended China's aggressive quarantine of foreigners with flulike symptoms as well as health detentions of its own citizens.

'With initial efforts of containment, actually we not only reduced the impact of the first wave to China, but we also won time for us to prepare the vaccine' now being given to China's people, Chen said in an interview during the Havana meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research.

The Associated Press: 1.5M per day getting swine flu vaccine in China