Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
No, says the U.S. federal government, but officials finally have enough data to give a good picture of the pandemic and it isn’t pretty. The CDC estimates that 22 million Americans caught swine flu in the first six months of the pandemic and 3,900 people died.
This includes 540 children.
So why the big jump in numbers? In a country of 300 million people, it takes some time to do a count. The US doesn’t have an organized public health system and states and cities lack enough staff to crunch the numbers in real-time. So the CDC takes a representative, detailed sampling from 10 states and then extrapolates this to the total US population. The latest figures are the first to give a good estimate of how extensive the pandemic is so far.
The CDC is pushing vaccines but at the same time, supply is spotty and people are often suspicious of them. Americans are not alone in this mistrust, by the way – check here for an unpdate on what is happening in Europe. And here is one creative way to help prevent the spread…
from Maggie Fox:
Usually, at a forum on swine flu, all the experts stand up, present a bunch of general background material, a few new findings, and leave. The learning curve on H1N1 is so steep that by the time you fill in the background, you are out of time, and there's no point in hearing the next presenter speak to a general audience
But this week's Institute of Medicine meeting was different. Epidemiologists - the people who specialize in how disease spreads - were talking to molecular geneticists. Keiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization filled in the bench scientists on how negotiating to get vaccines and drugs for poor countries was taking up everyone's valuable time. Veterans of the 1976 swine flu vaccine mess told their stories. Every scientist sat there raptly listening to the other's presentations. Much of the material had not yet gone through the time consuming peer-review process needed for publication in a medical journal, so it was a little raw, but that much more useful and timely to an educated audience.
from Maggie Fox:
You can prevent swine flu by washing your hands and keeping away from sick people, but how do you make money off of it? Some smaller companies such as Vical and Novavax hope the pandemic might make a short cut for them.
In general vaccines are not lucrative money-makers but this could change.
And then there are always the big antiviral makers. CDC's new guidelines do not offer hope for much more market for them, however. They recommend preserving these drugs for people who really need them.
from Maggie Fox:
WHO has given up on trying to keep any kind of precise count on swine flu, which is just about everywhere now. It's fairly mild but hardly anyone has any immunity, so it will infect far more people than seasonal flu does in an average year. That may mean more serious cases and more deaths than usual, just by virtue of sheer numbers.
The World Health Organization, which had been patiently publishing every single confirmed case of swine flu, now finally says there are too many too even try counting. This will ease confusion, as the 94,000 confirmed cases were clearly only the tip of the iceberg:
Click here for WHO’s statement.
And while the pandemic is still fairly mild, government are not taking chances — and vaccine makers are feeling the strain
And those pesky promiscuous viruses. More insight into the 1918 pandemic – the kind everyone fears may happen again – shows it circulated for a little while before it got bad. And as Tan Ee Lyn reports from Hong Kong, it was a swine flu as well:
John McConnell, an editor at The Lancet and founding Editor of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, is answering questions about the swine flu:
What is the science behind how new flu strains arise – this one has pig, human and bird components (mainly pig). How has it got this way and how is it able to gain each of these components?