Bird Flu - Archives
Y2K With Feathers
commonsense from New Zealand, which has been taking bird flu pandemic
planning to extremes:
The panic over a possible bird flu pandemic is simply Y2K with feathers,
according to a Health Waikato Advisory Committee member.
March 31st, 2007
Biota Vs GSK - The Battle Gets Hotter
The Australian newspaper
Australian biotech company Biota Holdings could increase its claim for
damages against business partner GlaxoSmithKline, alleging it has evidence
that reveals GSK concealed a decision to stop marketing the anti-influenza
...In an amended claim filed yesterday, Biota CEO Peter Cook said a two-year
review of almost 300,000 GSK documents showed the company failed to disclose
its decision to abandon Relenza.
"Initially our claim was based on a relatively limited number of documents
from GSK, maybe 1000 or so," Mr Cook said.
"We now have greater detail that we feel establishes that they concealed
their intentions around the product."
Relenza, the world's first broad-spectrum anti-flu drug, was launched in
1999, capturing almost half of the global market for flu medication within a
Relenza's main competitor, Tamiflu, was launched by rival pharmaceutical
company Roche two months later, but it has since established itself as the
market leader, attracting 97 per cent of sales of anti-flu drugs.
Biota's amended claim states there was a strategic shift by GSK away from
Relenza, especially after the 2000 merger that combined Glaxo Wellcome and
Smith Kline Beecham.
Biota claims GSK failed to disclose its decision to close manufacturing
lines and stop promoting the drug, prompting sales to plummet by more than
80 per cent.
March 30th, 2007
Tamiflu Warnings - "At Long Last"
has a good round-up of Japanese opinion on the Health Ministry's warning
that Tamiflu should not be given to teenagers:
"At long last they have taken action, but it is extremely slow and
half-hearted," Rokuro Hama, a doctor who runs a watchdog group on side
effects of drugs, said in a telephone interview.
Hama says there should be similar warnings against the use of Tamiflu for
all age groups, because influenza is essentially a minor disease that need
not be treated with drugs.
Haruhiko Nokiba, the father of the youth killed in the truck accident, told
the Sankei [newspaper]: "The fact that a series of victims has emerged is
due to the negligence of the ministry. Just as with previous drug problems,
they are dealing with it too late."
The ministry had previously warned that children taking Tamiflu should be
supervised and has maintained that warning for younger children, who are
seen more at risk of dying from flu. In the new warning it recommends that
children aged 10-19 should not be given the drug at all.
March 23rd, 2007
Finding the Real Killer
Local "backyard" poultry producers in poor countries have been blamed for
most bird flu outbreaks. But a report on
OpenDemocracy.net places the blame elsewhere:
The authorities dealing with bird flu finally are acknowledging the role
played by the poultry trade in spreading the virus. This is long overdue.
The first bird-flu outbreaks in southeast Asia in early 2004 - in Vietnam,
Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia - occurred in closed, intensive
factory farms. But no investigations were ever made into why the disease
broke out on these farms and how it subsequently spread.
The same happened in Turkey and Egypt; wild birds and backyard flocks were
quickly blamed, while the poultry companies, which supplied markets and
"backyard" producers with birds, were exonerated.
It was only in the United Kingdom in February 2007 that the myth that large
farms are "biosecure" was shattered and the secrecy over the way that bird
flu can spread through the trans-national poultry industry was partly
It's a lengthy report, but well worth reading in full.
March 21st, 2007
When Chickens and Ducks Start to Wobble
has problems. Reuters reports:
When Attia Abdel-Hamid Hassan notices the chickens or ducks that he keeps
at home in Egypt's Nile Delta starting to wobble on their feet, he puts them
in a sack and drowns them in an irrigation canal.
His neighbours, afraid of catching the deadly bird flu virus that has so far
killed 13 Egyptians, do the same.
That is how residents in the red-brick farming hamlet of Ezbet Sidi Omar, 40
km (25 miles) north of Cairo, are trying to protect themselves from avian
influenza in Egypt, which has the largest number of confirmed human cases
outside of Asia.
Health officials say the cultural practice of keeping birds at home, often
in secret, is aiding the spread of bird flu in the most populous Arab
country, where 24 people have contracted the disease since it emerged in
Egyptian poultry a year ago.
Things aren't getting better. Read the whole story.
March 14th, 2007
Aussie Scientists Exposed to H5N1
Three Australian researchers have been
exposed to bird flu:
The CSIRO [Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation]
scientists had infected live ducks with the H5N1 strain of bird flu before
killing them to assess the impact of the virus about 1pm Monday.
But the experiment went pear shaped about 1pm Monday when the scientists
realised that they had failed to reactivate air filters in their specially
designed suits, increasing their risk of exposure to the deadly virus.
The trio were immediately removed from the laboratory and taken away for
testing and treatment.
CSIRO media liaison manager Marilyn Chalkley said the treatment was
precautionary and blood tests showed no signs of infection.
March 7th, 2007
Indonesia - Flexing Muscle? Holding Hostage?
I thought it was irresponsible of the Indonesian government to attempt to
withhold samples of the bird flu virus from international health
authorities. But it seems they might have a case. Here's
Indonesia's bold decision to withhold human bird flu virus samples from
the World Health Organization has created an international ruckus, but it
has also sent a clear message that poor countries have some leverage over
But will developing countries band together to try to ensure their people
have access to a bird flu vaccine that could potentially save hundreds of
millions in the event of a pandemic?
Indonesia, currently alone in flexing its muscle, has been accused by some
experts of holding hostage a virus that could be the key to survival during
a human flu pandemic. But the cash-strapped government says it has to make
sure that any vaccine produced globally -- likely to be expensive and scarce
-- does not just reach wealthy countries like the United States.
March 6th, 2007
Tamiflu - More Deaths in Japan?
The Daily Yomiuri
A second-year middle school boy died after falling from the 11th floor of
his condominium building in Sendai on Tuesday, police said. The boy had
taken the influenza medication Tamiflu several hours before the fall.
A similar fatal accident occurred on Feb. 16 in Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture,
when a middle school girl died after falling from an apartment building
after taking Tamiflu.
In light of these two incidents, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry
announced it will gather information on the side effects of Tamiflu from
March 3rd, 2007
Dead British Aristocrat to Help Bird Flu Fight
In Britain The Sun newspaper
Scientists described today how they are planning to exhume the body of an
aristocrat who died almost 90 years ago in an effort to help them combat a
potential bird flu pandemic.
A team has been granted permission to examine the body of diplomat,
politician and landowner Sir Mark Sykes, who died of Spanish Flu in France
in 1919, aged 39.
It's fascinating. Read it all.
March 2nd, 2007