H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Stable virus, stretching vaccine, approved tests, new flu center

Nov 17, 2009

WHO says no virus mutation in Ukraine
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that preliminary tests reveal no significant changes in pandemic H1N1 viruses taken from patients in Ukraine. The WHO said that genetic sequencing done in Britain and the US on 34 samples shows that the virus is similar to the one used to make novel H1N1 vaccine, reconfirming the vaccine's efficacy.
Nov 17 WHO statement

Novartis vaccine may protect with half the dose
Novartis announced today that US clinical data suggest that half of the company's currently approved unadjuvanted pandemic H1N1 vaccine dose was protective in adults. The trials involve about 4,000 people. The company said it was discussing with US regulators whether reducing the antigen could stretch the vaccine supply. Novartis also said a trial of its MF59-adjuvanted pandemic vaccine showed a single dose was protective in children ages 3 to 8 and adults.
Nov 17 Novartis press release

Study: H1N1 doesn't readily infect poultry
US Department of Agriculture researchers report that the pandemic H1N1 virus does not easily infect poultry or spread among them. The researchers inoculated chickens, turkeys, ducks, and quail with the virus, they wrote in Emerging Infectious Diseases. Most of the birds showed no sign of infection; some quail were infected but did not pass the virus to other quail. The authors note that two turkey flocks in Chile were infected earlier this year, but those may have been isolated events.
Nov 16 letter in Emerg Infect Dis

Spain, Greece start vaccinating
Health officials in Spain and Greece said both countries launched their pandemic H1N1 vaccine programs yesterday, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Spain bought 37 million doses and is giving first priority to high-risk groups, including pregnant women and health workers. Greece has 700,000 initial doses and is targeting health workers and others in high-risk jobs. Next week's priority group will include pregnant women and people with underlying conditions.
Nov 16 AFP story

FDA grants emergency use for 2 rapid H1N1 tests
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized emergency use of two rapid tests for detecting novel H1N1 flu: ELITech's Molecular Diagnostics 2009-H1N1 Influenza A Virus Real-Time RT-PCR and Roche's RealTime Ready Influenza A/H1N1 Detection Set. The tests are designed for respiratory specimens, such as nasal swabs, taken from symptomatic patients. The FDA previously approved six other pandemic flu tests for emergency use.
FDA notices of approval

Canada's public health offerings nicked by H1N1 efforts
Diverse public health programs in Canada, such as support groups and food inspections, are being postponed or suspended as officials redirect staff to H1N1 vaccination efforts, a plan that has been in the works for months, according to a Toronto Globe and Mail story. Health authorities in several provinces have postponed non-flu vaccination programs and travel clinics, while others have limited the impact on public health programs by employing student or retired nurses.

Nov 16 Globe and Mail story

China, WHO plan Beijing flu research center
The WHO and China have agreed to open an influenza research center in Beijing to identify and share knowledge about new strains, officials announced today. Approval to open the center was given last week, when Chinese health officials met with WHO assistant director-general Keiji Fukuda. If the laboratory is designated a WHO collaborating center as planned, it would join a group of such labs in Atlanta, London, Tokyo, and Melbourne.
Nov 17 Bloomberg News report

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