NEWS SCAN: Intention to receive pH1N1 vaccine, H3N2 in Vietnam, malaria drug approval

Feb 17, 2012

Study: Having to wait for pH1N1 vaccine blunted desire for it
The more the US public learned about the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus (pH1N1) and the longer they had to wait for pH1N1 vaccine, the less likely they were to get vaccinated, according to a longitudinal study in the American Journal of Public Health yesterday. Researchers from the Rand Corporation and the University of Michigan (U-M) analyzed data from 10 waves of a US national survey on the pandemic. They found that participants' perceived risk paralleled pH1N1 activity, and that intention to be vaccinated dropped from 50% in May 2009 to 16% in January 2010, at which point 27% of the population had received the vaccine. They also found that those who had previously received a seasonal flu vaccine reported significantly higher intention to receive the pH1N1 vaccine (67% vs 26%, P < .001). "Our results provide further evidence of how important it is to develop technology to speed vaccine production," said study co-author Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, of the U-M School of Public Health. The authors also wrote that encouraging seasonal flu vaccination may help with pandemic preparedness.
Feb 16 Am J Public Health abstract
Feb 16 U-M press release

H3N2 swine flu in Vietnamese child
Vietnam's Department of Preventive Health announced on Feb 15 the first human case of H3N2 swine flu in that country. The case occurred last April in a 2-year-old girl from the southern province of Long An. Her case was mild, and she recovered, according to a Thanh Nien News story yesterday. Because of unspecified "strange" symptoms, samples were sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further study. A handful of human cases of a novel H3N2 swine strain have been reported in the United States this winter.
Feb 16 Thanh Nien News article

Combination malaria drug gets agency nod
The drug Pyramax for treatment of acute, uncomplicated malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum or P vivax has been has been recommended by European Medicines Agency (EMA), a group that along with the World Health Organization (WHO) gives scientific opinions on medications for human use outside the European Union. The drug, from Korean firm Poong Pharmaceutical, is a combination of pyronaridine and the artemisinin derivative artesunate. Resistance to artemesinin used alone has been growing, but its combination with other antimalarial drugs results in a longer half-life and thus has been recommended by the WHO. Because of potential liver toxicity, which is currently being investigated by the manufacturer, as well as safety issues with multiple courses of treatment in malaria-endemic areas, the EMA recommendation for Pyramax is restricted to single 3-day treatment courses in adults and children who weigh at least 20 kilograms in areas with low transmission rates and with evidence of resistance to artemisinin.
Feb 17 EMA press release

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