NEWS SCAN: H1N1 antiviral resistance, Fluvax and fevers, doctors' vaccine views, pressure-treated burgers, Sanofi joins dengue initiative

Feb 22, 2011

Japan reports peramivir-resistant H1N1 flu case
A genetic mutation of the pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza virus that renders it resistant to the antiviral drug peramivir (Rapiacta) has been detected in Japan, according to Kyodo News today. The finding, in a 5-year-old child, was reported by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) as the likely first case since the drug was approved in the country a year ago. Peramivir, which is administered intravenously, was approved for emergency use in the United States during the 2009-10 pandemic. The NIID said the mutated virus was identified following peramivir treatment after the patient tested positive for influenza A last month. The child has since been discharged from the hospital. "This is only one case and there is no need to worry," said Takato Odagiri, head of influenza research at NIID. "We need to carefully watch how frequently such a virus resistant to Rapiacta appears." The virus was also resistant to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) but not to zanamivir (Relenza) or laninamivir (Inavir), which was also approved for use in Japan last year). All these drugs belong to the same class of antivirals.

Study shows fevers more common with Fluvax seasonal vaccine
After reports of febrile convulsions in Western Australia during the 2010 influenza season following administration of CSL Biotherapies' Fluvax vaccine, researchers surveyed parents and found that Fluvax was associated with more and higher fevers than another flu vaccine. Researchers surveyed 327 New Zealand parents (99% response rate) of children aged 6 months to 5 years who had received flu vaccine in 2010. The parents were asked about fever in their children within 24 hours of vaccination. The children received a total of 422 vaccine doses, of which 267 were Sanofi's Vaxigrip, 133 were Fluvax, and 22 were another vaccine. Children who received Fluvax were four times more likely to have a fever, and those fevers were on average 1°C higher (39°C versus 38°C). In addition, parents of those receiving Fluvax were 23 times more likely to seek medical advice for their children's fever. Because of Australia's experience with post-immunization fevers, the US government's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended in August 2010 that Fluvax not be used in children younger than 9 years.
Feb 21 Vaccine abstract
Aug 5, 2010, CIDRAP News story on ACIP recommendation

Canadian study shows pediatricians warmed to H1N1 vaccine
A mail survey sent to all Canadian pediatricians before and during Canada's pandemic H1N1 vaccination campaign showed that their support for the campaign increased significantly after it got under way, according to a report in BMC Public Health. The vaccine, which contained the novel adjuvant AS03, was approved Oct 21, and the campaign started nationwide on Oct 29. The survey was sent to 1,852 pediatricians in August and September and was sent again in November to those who hadn't responded; the response rate was 50%. The responses were grouped and analyzed according to whether they were received before or after the campaign started. Results for the "before" and "after" groups included the following: agreement that H1N1 was a serious disease that would be widespread without vaccination, 63% and 75%; belief that the vaccine was (respectively) safe and effective, 50% and 35%, 77% and 72%; having sufficient information about the vaccine, 31% and 73%; intention to recommend the vaccine, 80% and 92%; and intention to be vaccinated, 84% and 92%. "Respondents' endorsement of almost all items regarding A(H1N1) influenza and its prevention by vaccination increased after the start of the vaccination campaign," the authors wrote. As factors contributing to the pediatricians' responses, they cited the intense educational campaign concerning the vaccine, a low rate of post-vaccination adverse events, media attention, and the physicians' exposure to severe H1N1 cases.
Feb 22 BMC Public Health report

Burger patties now among foods pressure-treated for safety
Fresh hamburger patties are the latest product to join the growing list of foods treated with high pressure to reduce microbial contamination, according to a Food Safety News (FSN) report today. Cargill Inc. recently announced the availability of "Fressure" ground beef patties to food service customers. The company said its pressurization process doubles the shelf life of the patties and reduces bacteria while preserving flavor, without using heat, chemicals, or irradiation. However, the process does not kill all bacteria, and standard safety precautions must be used during production and by customers, a Cargill official told FSN. The story said high-pressure processing is also being used on some ready-to-eat meats, salsas, guacamoles, juices, and shellfish. Cargill said its patent-pending pressure process represents a further development of an existing technology. V.M. Balasubramaniam of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University called Cargill's process a breakthrough and said high-pressure treatment has been "the most promising food-safety innovation in recent years." He said the process, which works best on products containing water, subjects foods to 60,000 to 87,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, compared with sea-level of air pressure of 14.4 pounds. The story did not provide information on the cost of pressure treatment, but an industry official said it is dropping.
Feb 22 FSN story
Feb 14 Cargill press release

Sanofi Pasteur joins Dengue Vaccine Initiative
Vaccine producer Sanofi Pasteur announced yesterday that it is joining with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to support the recently launched Dengue Vaccine Initiative, with the aim of moving dengue vaccination "higher on the global health agenda." Sanofi has a candidate dengue vaccine that is in phase 3 clinical trials, and several other companies are also testing dengue vaccines. Dr. Ragnar Norrby, chairman of the IVI board, said in a press release, "With a dengue vaccine on the short-term horizon, this collaboration will focus on accelerating its adoption and making it accessible to those at highest risk of dengue." The IVI announced the launch of the dengue initiative on Feb 10 in collaboration with the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Johns Hopkins University, and the World Health Organization. In a statement provided to CIDRAP News, Sanofi officials said the company's participation in the initiative will focus on information, communication, and sustainable financing and support. "We will help provide information about the burden of dengue, the costs linked to the disease, and the cost-effectiveness of vaccination," aiming to raise the awareness of decision-makers, the company said. "Efforts will also be made to establish sustainable financing mechanisms for countries where financing vaccination programs may be problematic." The company further said it may provide "scientific, logistical and limited financial support" for meetings dealing with dengue prevention.
Feb 21 Sanofi press release

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