Bird Flu - Archives
October 28th - November
Private Eye magazine has just arrived, and it’s full of bird flu
jokes. You’ll have to buy it to see most of them, but here’s one that’s
The cartoonist is Tony Husband, who has his own website
November 1st, 2005
Thai woman is recovering after being stricken with bird flu, according
to the country’s deputy public health minister. It is Thailand’s 20th
confirmed case of human bird flu since the end of 2003, of whom 13 have
magazine reports on four small biotech stocks that could soar in the
event of a bird flu pandemic. They are AVI BioPharma, BioCryst
Pharmaceuticals, Novavax and Sinovac Biotech.
Sciences – Well Connected
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s holding of shares in Tamiflu developer Gilead
Sciences has moved from the conspiracy websites to the mainstream, with a
report by CNN. It notes that other “political heavyweights” also hold
significant equity holdings in Gilead.
"I don't know of any
biotech company that's so politically well-connected," says analyst Andrew
McDonald of Think Equity Partners in San Francisco.
What's more, the
federal government is emerging as one of the world's biggest customers for
Tamiflu. In July, the Pentagon ordered $58 million worth of the treatment
for U.S. troops around the world, and Congress is considering a
multi-billion dollar purchase.
flu another Pentagon hoax?
asks a writer at the website of the Montreal-based Centre for Research
on Globalisation, pointing to allegations that Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld is a major shareholder in Gilead Sciences, which developed the drug
all scientific prudence and normal public health procedure, the world
population is being whipped up into a fear frenzy by irresponsible public
health officials from the US Administration to WHO to the United States
Centers for Disease Control. They all warn about the imminent danger that a
malicious viral strain might spread from infected birds, primarily in
Vietnam and other Asian centers, to contaminate the entire human species in
Secretary of Defense, the man who allegedly supported the use of contrived
intelligence to justify the war on Iraq, is now poised to reap huge gains
for a flu panic his Administration has done everything it can to promote….
It would be useful to know whether the Pentagon’s successor to Douglas
Feith’s Office of Special Plans developed the strategy of biowarfare behind
the current Avian Flu panic. Perhaps some enterprising Congressional
committee might look into the entire subject of plausible conflicts of
interest regarding Secretary Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld stands to make a fortune on
royalties as a panicked world population scrambles to buy a drug worthless
in curing effects of alleged Avian Flu.
experts from the Asia-Pacific region are
meeting in Brisbane today to coordinate a response to any bird flu
pandemic. However, the
Medical Association (AMA) is calling on delegates to the conference to act
with caution. According to AMA president Mukesh Haikerwal, "From the
evidence and the incidence of bird flu that is out there at the moment, it
is probably a bit early and irresponsible to be talking of widespread doom,
destruction and death. People need to be able to get on with their lives
without the prospect of some sort of ornithological Armageddon creating fear
in the community."
More Flu in
Mosnews.com reports new bird flu outbreaks in central Russia, although
the strain of the virus has not been announced. According to the report, “so
far, about 60 infected locations in Siberian, Urals and Central Russian
regions have been detected. In about 100 locations, poultry was under
suspicion of infection.”
agriculture minister Aleksei Gordeyev said on Friday the Russian media was
guilty of exaggerating bird flu scares. He said “this subject will be closed
and forgotten in a week or two.” Earlier, eccentric Russian MP Aleksei
Mitrofanov said that bird flu was invented by Americans who wanted to
dominate the world’s poultry markets.
to See a Cute Movie about Chickens?
sending out chicken dolls to promote its new animated feature “Chicken
Little,” which opens on Friday. But, with everyone talking about bird
flu and infected chickens, former Time magazine correspondent Chris
Taylor, at his
Blah blog, sees ironies:
the one Disney would probably prefer we consider -- that we're all Chicken
Littles at the moment, running around screaming about a metaphorical sky
falling (or, more literally, that a terrible pandemic will drop on wings
from the sky).
But I prefer to savor the schadenfreude. Here's Disney hoping for a big
holiday hit to save its moribund animation division, kicking into gear a
marketing campaign that has been meticulously planned for years, ordering up
thousands of these bobble-headed bird dolls from factories in China.
And what happens? All of a sudden, bird becomes a dirty word. Chicken
becomes even dirtier. Chickens from Asia are practically obscene. It's the
worst possible timing for the marketers at Disney, and the fear is spread so
far and so worldwide there's nothing their campaign can do to combat it, not
even with a blank checkbook. Who the hell wants to see a cute movie about
chickens right now?
few weeks will be critical, as millions of birds engage in their annual
migration from Europe and Eastern Asia to Southern Africa. The
Broadcasting Corporation quotes the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s
Chief Veterinarian Dr Joseph Domenech, as stating about bird flu:
arrive in Africa in the following weeks, particularly eastern Africa,
sub-Saharan Africa. And the concern is that the veterinary services and the
farmer systems are not in a good position to detect immediately, it will
spread to domestic poultry farms.
A WHO risk
assessment for Africa is
reporting that two people who died in hospital in Vietnam over the past
week showed symptoms of bird flu. The two victims, a
girl and a 26-year-old man, had eaten duck and a chicken's eggs before they
fell ill. A local newspaper quotes doctors as stating that both had severe
respiratory problems, fever and lung infection. A third person is being
treated for milder symptoms. According to WHO figures, Vietnam has suffered
91 cases of H5N1 human infection, with 41 deaths. This is around two-thirds
of the total human cases reported in all countries since the end of 2003.
investor website contains an analysis of Chiron, following the award to the
company of a $62.5 million contract to supply bird flu vaccine. The report
also mentions other stocks, all well-known to investors – GlaxoSmithKline
(which is a Motley Fool recommendation), Sanofi-Aventis and Gilead Sciences.
Motley Fool also mentions Chiron’s distributor, Henry Schein.
New Bird Flu Drug
report from the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Hungarian claims to have
developed an effective new bird flu vaccine. The report quotes the country’s
chief medical officer: “A new vaccine is considered effective if there is a
2.5 times increase of antibodies in the blood. Our vaccine increased the
levels of antibodies to a 10 times higher level.” However, WHO and the EU
have expressed concerns about the speed at which the drug has been
close its borders in the event of a global flu pandemic, according to
Health Minister Tony Abbott, just back from the international avian flu
conference in Canada.
work? According to WHO’s
excellent booklet “Avian Influenza: Assessing the Pandemic Threat” (p25,
during the disastrous 1918-19 pandemic,
quarantine and isolation were widely imposed, but probably did little to
stop the contagion. Predictably, quarantine could delay spread somewhat but,
having no impact on population susceptibility, could do nothing to reduce
the numbers who would eventually fall ill. Australia was the notable
exception. By maintaining a strict maritime quarantine, that country managed
to stave off arrival of the epidemic until the start of 1919. By that time
the virus had lost some its lethality, and Australia experienced a milder,
though somewhat longer, period of influenza activity than elsewhere.
according to the excellent
Effect Measure blog:
it will shut its borders to keep human bird flu in, while most other
countries are making plans to keep bird flu out. Nice ideas. Neither will
likely work….It is inevitable that these kinds of restrictions will come
into play if a pandemic is starting. It is just as inevitable they will be
costly and will fail. It isn't even sure they will slow things up much. This
is apparently an obligatory response that can't be stopped. But it shouldn't
also prevent us from beginning the kind of community mobilization that will
really make a difference in managing the consequences of a pandemic, should
idea what this means.
(Click on the word EVIDENCE to return to this site.)
Relenza has some advantages over
Tamiflu, according to Peter Molloy, chief executive of Biota, the drug’s
developer. He was speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, here in
current environment where Tamiflu's supply is severely backlogged and
resistance concerns are emerging, we expect to see further significant
orders for Relenza from other governments, including hopefully the
Australian government," he said.
said Relenza was effective against the latest strain of Avian flu both as a
preventative and curative measure.
said the worldwide sales potential of Relenza, which is licensed to global
pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was in the hundreds of millions
sales are realised, clearly Biota's royalty stream over the next nine years
- that is, until the patents expire - could be substantial."
Late Show last night presented the
Top Ten Dumb Guy Tips
for Avoiding the Bird Flu:
"Before eating chicken, soak it in Lysol"
"Don't lick unfamiliar pigeons"
"Frighten birds by constantly meowing"
"Stay away from basketball great Larry Bird"
"Move to a place where there are no birds, like the moon"
"Avoid birds that look like they're up to something"
"Go back to the old Y2K bunker, start drinking"
"Fill birdfeeder with Sucrets"
"If you have a chicken, check for swelling in the McNuggets"
find more bird flu humor at
The Onion, with
this headline from February: “Nation's
Leading Alarmists Excited about Bird Flu.”
October 28th, 2005
Provide Vaccine Stockpile
government has awarded a $62.5 million contract to pharmaceuticals company
Chiron to provide a stockpile of H5N1 flu vaccine, for use in the case of an
Reuters describes the vaccine as “a ‘pre-pandemic’ formulation that
Chiron and other companies have been working on for more than a year now,
Chiron said. Doctors and health officials hope it will be useful as a
‘priming dose’ that would help jump-start an immune response to be
fine-tuned by a second vaccine.”
the US government awarded a $100 million contract to European drug company
Sanofi-Aventis for bird flu vaccine. And yesterday the US Senate voted to
provide nearly $8 billion in funding in fiscal 2006 to stockpile anti-flu
vaccines and other medicines.
Doesn’t Need This
officials are investigating the deaths of dozens of chickens on the
island of Bali, in case of bird flu. Bali relies heavily on tourism, and
its economy has already been hit hard by terrorist bombings.