H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Antivirals by phone, coordinating South American response, usefulness of vaccine contracts, first case in Haiti

Jul 16, 2009

Britain prepares to launch phone service to supply antivirals
Following a surge of flu-like illnesses, a British system that will allow people to report symptoms by phone and obtain antiviral drugs will be launched very soon, The Times newspaper reported today. Data from general practitioners indicated that the rate of people reporting flu-like illnesses rose to 73 per 100,000 last week, from 50 per 100,000 the week before, the newspaper said. Using the phone service, people will get reference numbers that friends can use to collect antivirals for them.
[Jul 16 Times report]

South American health ministers meet to coordinate pandemic response
Health ministers from six South American countries met yesterday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to coordinate responses to the H1N1 pandemic, according to a report from TerraDaily, a business and technology news Web site. Besides Argentina, the meeting included Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Ministers said the countries need to share medicine and supplies, and they voiced concern about access to vaccines. Argentina has had 137 deaths, second highest toll after the United States.

Vaccine contracts might prove worthless in severe pandemic, experts say
Experts warn that if the H1N1 flu pandemic turns severe, countries that have vaccine factories might seize vaccine supplies, rendering contracts that promise doses to other countries meaningless, the Associated Press reports. Many vaccine contracts that countries have signed involve doses made outside their borders. In a severe pandemic, countries with vaccine plants might decide to seize all doses and ban their export, said David Fidler, a law professor at Indiana University, and other experts.

Haiti reports its first pandemic H1N1 cases
Haiti has confirmed its first three novel H1N1 flu cases, according to a Xinhua report published yesterday. Two cases are in Chilean soldiers serving in the United Nations Stabilization Mission for Haiti, and the third involves a 23-year-old Haitian who has not been outside the country. The two soldiers entered Haiti early this month. All three patients were in stable condition. Samples from 61 people are being tested in foreign laboratories, Health Minister Alex Larsen said.

National Biodefense Science Board to hold teleconference
The National Biodefense Science Board will host a public teleconference tomorrow to allow the public to participate and comment in a session on findings from an H1N1 countermeasures and decision-making forum held last month by the board's pandemic influenza working group. Members of the public are invited to call in to listen to and comment on the board's deliberations. Call-in information is listed on the board's Web site, listed below.

NIAID seeking H1N1 patients for study
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said today that it is seeking patients with pandemic H1N1 influenza to participate in a study of how the disease affects those with chronic illnesses and impaired immune systems. The study is taking place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. Findings will be used to develop new prevention and treatment strategies against the new flu strain.

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