H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Vaccine development, underreporting of cases, Mexico City lowers alert as Australia raises it

May 22, 2009

HHS funnels $1 billion toward vaccine for novel H1N1 flu
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that she is allocating about $1 billion in existing funds toward clinical vaccine studies this summer and for commercial-scale production of both antigen (active ingredient) and adjuvant (which boosts a person's immune response) for a novel H1N1 influenza vaccine. "The actions we are taking today will help us be prepared if a vaccine is needed," Sebelius said in a news release.
[May 22 HHS news release]

Global novel flu numbers rise slightly
Global novel H1N1 influenza totals pushed to 11,168 cases and 86 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The Philippines reported its first case, to push the number of affected countries to 42 as the global case total grew by 134 since yesterday. The numbers include 3,892 cases with 75 deaths in Mexico, 5,764 cases and 9 deaths in the United States as of yesterday, 719 cases and 1 death in Canada, and 20 cases and 1 death in Costa Rica.
[WHO update 36]

US case count tops 6,500
The number of confirmed and probable novel H1N1 flu cases in the United States today swelled to 6,552, up 212 cases from yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. No new deaths were reported. Also, no new states reported cases, to hold the total of affected states at 47, plus the District of Columbia.
[Current CDC numbers]

Cases underreported in Britain?
Some influenza experts suspect that the number of novel H1N1 influenza cases may be higher than reported in Britain, the Associated Press reported today. The country is reportedly trying to contain the virus by blanketing suspect cases and their contacts with oseltamivir, which several experts, such as Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, at the University of Minnesota, said won't work. According to the AP, Britain and Spain are also testing only those who have a travel history or are case contacts.
[May 22 AP story]

Mexico City downgrades alert
Mexico City yesterday lowered its novel flu alert, which removed restrictions on visiting public places, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported. The city's mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, said resident no longer need to wear masks, and he noted that no new infections with the novel flu virus had been reported for a week in the city.
[May 22 BBC article]

Australia raises its pandemic alert level
Australia's health ministry today raised its pandemic alert to the "containment" phase, as the number of novel H1N1 influenza rose to 11 and the country detected its first instance of community transmission of the virus, Bloomberg News reported. Two schools closed for a week after student cases were confirmed, and health officials are testing 28 more suspected cases. The government also said it was considering ordering H1N1 vaccine from Australia-based CSL Ltd.
[May 22 Bloomberg News story]

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