FLU NEWS SCAN: Intradermal vaccine ships, seasonal flu deaths, flu vaccine reactions, H9N2 virus sharing

Sep 19, 2011

Sanofi Pasteur starts shipping intradermal flu vaccine
Sanofi Pasteur announced today that it has begun shipping doses of its newly approved intradermal influenza vaccine to distributors in the United States. The vaccine, Fluzone Intradermal, is administered with an ultra-fine 1.5-millimeter needle, about 90% shorter than the needles used in conventional injections. The vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May for adults aged 18 through 64 and is the first of its type marketed in the United States. Because of its midyear approval date, limited supplies of the vaccine will be available this year, the company said. Donna Cary, a Sanofi spokeswoman, said the firm expects to produce up to about 70 million doses of Fluzone vaccines for the US market this year, but the intradermal vaccine will make up only a small percentage of that.
Sep 19 Sanofi Pasteur press release
May 10 CIDRAP News story on the vaccine's approval

Seasonal flu mortality very low in Israelis 50 and under
Influenza kills on average almost 900 Israelis each year, but only about 1% of those deaths are in people 50 years old and younger, according to a study in Infection. The study authors analyzed data from 1999 through 2006 and determined overall excess mortality during flu seasons to range from 7.7 to 36.1 per 100,000 for all causes, and from 4.4 to 24.4 per 100,000 for respiratory and circulatory causes. Of the respiratory and circulatory deaths, influenza accounted for an average of 869 deaths each year (range, 280-1,516) in years that saw significant flu activity. (Two years had "extremely low" flu activity, and they were used to calculate excess seasonal mortality unrelated to influenza.). About 90% of flu deaths were in those 65 and older, and only 1% were in those 50 and younger. Only about seven deaths each year were attributed to respiratory and circulatory diseases in this younger age-group. The authors conclude, "This information provides an important baseline for evaluating the severity of the A(H1N1) 2009 influenza pandemic, where persons under 50 years of age were often disproportionately represented."
Infection study abstract

Experts say virus-splitting acid may have led to febrile events with Fluvax
The cause of febrile reactions to CSL Biotherapies' Fluvax influenza vaccine in Australian children may be traced to the agent used to split the virus to deactivate it, according to four infectious disease specialists from Australia and Canada. Some of the events included febrile convulsions. In a commentary in the Medical Journal of Australia today, the experts note that CSL, based in Melbourne, used deoxycholate, an acid that has been linked previously to adverse events, as the virus-splitting agent in the manufacture of Fluvax,. They cite cases of oculorespiratory syndrome noted during Canada's 2000-01 flu vaccine efforts, as well as earlier events in Europe linked to vaccines produced using deoxycholate. They add, "This hypothesis garners support from a recent United States Food and Drug Administration warning letter indicating that CSL failed to determine optimal splitting conditions for new virus strains and that assays to assess virus splitting had not been validated." They say that the use of deoxycholate should be studied further. Authors of a study published last month offered a similar hypothesis.
Sep 19 Med J Aust study
Aug 23 CIDRAP News story on previous study

Bangladesh shares H9N2 virus
Bangladesh is sharing an H9N2 avian influenza virus with the United States, which will use it to make a seed strain for a possible pandemic vaccine, bdnews24.com, a news service based in Dhaka, reported yesterday. Health secretary Muhammad Humayun Kabir told the news service that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently confirmed and sequenced the strain, influenza A/Bangladesh/0994/2011 (H9N2), which the country's Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) had detected during surveillance. Though the virus causes mild disease, it could pose a potential pandemic threat and could mutate with H5N1, which also circulates in Bangladesh. The virus is being shared through protocols developed by the World Health Organization. Mahmudur Rahman, director of the IEDCR, said Bangladesh would get access to affordable vaccines produced from the viruses, along with other technical support.

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