H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Donated vaccine; blood donors; blaming drug makers; updates in Ukraine, Africa, UAE, China

Vaccine maker donates 50 million doses
Pharmaceuticals manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline will donate 50 million doses of H1N1 vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO) for distribution to countries that cannot afford to buy it, the WHO said today. The agency said that 95 countries are eligible to receive the vaccine and it hopes to procure enough vaccine to cover 10% of their populations.
Nov 10 WHO statement

Flu worries reduce blood donations
Blood-donation centers across the United States are reporting unusually low levels of donations thanks to H1N1 flu, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some school and corporate blood drives have been canceled because of absenteeism, while in other areas regular donors are ill. In addition, donated blood must be discarded under federal rules if donors come down with flu symptoms shortly after donation.
Nov 10 Wall Street Journal story

More Americans blame drug makers for flu-shot shortage
Slightly more Americans hold vaccine manufacturers responsible for shortages of flu vaccine, compared with the percentage who blame the government, USA Today reported. A telephone poll of 1,500 adults conducted last weekend found that 62% of respondents place blame on drug companies versus 58% who blame government policies. Among respondents, 17% tried and failed to get a flu shot, while 19% did not try because they believed no vaccine was available.
Nov 9 USA Today story

Ukraine cases top 1 million
Ukraine's deputy health minister said the nation's epidemic of flu and other acute respiratory illnesses has now affected more than a million people, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. Vasyl Lazoryshynets said the death toll from the epidemic had risen to 174. Nearly 53,000 Ukrainians have been hospitalized, he said, but the number in intensive care has fallen by nearly a quarter to about 330. Sixty-seven confirmed H1N1 cases have been reported, 14 of them fatal, he said.
Nov 10 AFP report

H1N1 reported in 29 African countries
Twenty-nine countries in Africa have reported confirmed pandemic H1N1 flu cases so far, totaling 14,868 illnesses, with 103 deaths, the WHO Regional Office for Africa reported. The vast majority of the confirmed cases were reported by South Africa, with 12,619 cases, the agency said. The numbers show an increase from the 14,109 cases and 76 deaths previously reported through Nov 1. The number of confirmed cases greatly underestimates actual cases.
WHO African region report

UAE pilgrims must be immunized before hajj
A newspaper in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reported that everyone going on the annual Muslim pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca must be vaccinated against H1N1 flu before leaving, AFP reported today. Pilgrims can be vaccinated at four centers in Dubai and 30 elsewhere in the country. The hajj will take place in the last week of November.
Nov 10 AFP report

Flu spread spurs China to boost vaccine efforts
China is stepping up its H1N1 vaccination drive after cases increased by about 5,000 and the death toll rose from 16 to 30 over the past 3 days, AFP reported today. The health ministry numbered confirmed cases at 59,478 and said 240 people were in critical condition. Calling the increase in cases "alarming," health ministry spokesman Mao Qunan said the government has ordered increased vaccine production and immunizations. As of yesterday, 8.7 million Chinese had been vaccinated.

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