"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 4th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Flu vaccine efficacy problems prompt switch in UK to Seqirus' Fluad for over-75s
Decades after approvals elsewhere, Seqirus' adjuvanted flu vaccine Fluad is finally set for routine use in the U.K. because the current shot isn't working for the elderly. Following an official finding that the current vaccine didn't work for people 65 and older last year, NHS England is prepping a switch for the next flu season. Under the transition, people 75 and older will get first access to the new vaccine.
Flu consultations with GPs spike
There was a large increase in the number of GP consultations in England for flu-like illness at the end of 2017, and consultations were above expected rates in Wales and Scotland, according to latest figures collated by Public Health England. PHE also confirmed that a new adjuvanted flu vaccine, recently licensed in the UK for use in the elderly, will be recommended for those over 75 in the 2018–2019 vaccination programme. Fluad, marketed by Seqirus, was licensed for use in the UK in late 2017 and is available for use in the 2018–2019 season
Pandemic Influenza News
South Korea Reports More HPAI H5N6 In Poultry & Wild Birds
While a far cry from last year's record HPAI H5 epizootic (300+ farms infected, 30 million birds culled), South Korea's struggles against avian flu continue this winter with the arrival of a newly reassorted H5N6 virus in November, and sporadic detections of both LPAI and HPAI outbreaks in wild birds.
900 fowls culled in Bengaluru to contain bird flu
In Bengaluru, India, as many as 900 fowls were culled after the avian influenza virus was detected in a dead bird, civic officials said. Although the virus does not usually infect people, it can cause fever, diarrhoea, respiratory illnesses in some affected people. The Animal Husbandry Department had on Tuesday declared an area of 1km radius from where the bird was found dead as the "infected zone" and an area of 10km radius as the "surveillance" zone.
OIE Reports Three More HPAI Outbreaks in Riyadh
Dr Ali Al Doweriej, Director General of Veterinary Health and Monitoring Department, has reported three further outbreaks of high-path H5N8 bird flu, all in Riyadh. According to a follow-up report sent to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the affected population consists of backyard birds
Hong Kong suspends import of poultry products from French area over bird flu outbreak
Food safety authority of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has decided to suspend import of poultry products from Landes Department in southwestern France over an outbreak of bird flu.
Official Allays Fears of Avian Flu Among Humans
The deadly avian flu infecting chickens across Iran cannot be passed on to humans, according to WHO, and consumers need not worry about egg and chicken consumption, the secretary-general of Iran’s Union of Producers of Egg-Laying Hen said. “The acute avian flu, including strains of H1N5 and H1N, cannot be transmitted to humans unless one is in direct contact with the carcass of infected chicken or their dung,” Farzad Talakesh was also quoted as saying. In response to rumors circulating on the social media, the official said there has been no report of human infection yet.
H5N2 bird flu confirmed in central Taiwan
In Taiwan, the Pingtung and Yunlin County government confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza subtype H5N2 in over 15,000 chickens. Associate director of the Executive Yuan Agricultural Committee, Huang Chin-chengsaid that last December the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection had declared the infected area at high risk for avian flu
Bird flu: There is no need to panic, says doctor
In India, in the wake of a bird flu scare, doctors say there is no reason to panic as the chances of the virus infecting a human is very remote. V. Ravi, head of the Department of Neurovirology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, advised against any panic and said only those who are in contact with infected birds and health workers examining poultry workers are at risk. “Not even a single case of bird flu among human beings has been reported in India,” he said.
Industry News
Antiviral prescribing authorised for flu as incidence spikes
In the UK, with surveillance data indicating an increase in flu cases in the community, GPs and other prescribers working in primary care may now prescribe antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of flu at NHS expense. Information on at-risk groups and patients eligible for NHS treatment with either oseltamivir (Tamiflu), or zanamivir (Relenza), is available in PHE guidance on use of antiviral agents for the treatment and prophylaxis of seasonal flu.
Former Protein Sciences CEO says she was forced out as head of Meriden-based company
The former CEO of Protein Sciences said she had not agreed to the terms of her separation from Sanofi Pasteur and has consulted an attorney. Manon Cox, a 20-year Protein Sciences management leader, disagreed with Sanofi Pasteur’s statement that her “separation was done in compliance with her existing work contract.” Sanofi Pasteur management notified Cox and Protein Sciences founder and global business development director Daniel Adams that both were no longer employed at Sanofi
Academic studies
Study Shows the Efficacy of Vaccination in Patients With COPD
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and influenza vaccines should be given to patients to decrease the risk of exacerbations in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease according to a recent study in International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The Community-Acquired Pneumonia Immunization Trial in Adults (CAPITA) conducted a study in which older adult participants who were at risk for pneumococcal disease were given a PCV to prove the efficacy of the vaccine
Facebook, phone records could help stop disease outbreak
Facebook accounts and telephone records can be used to pinpoint the best individuals to vaccinate to stop a disease outbreak in its tracks, researchers said Wednesday. Such people would be "central" in their social networks, and thus likelier to spread disease-causing germs from one group to another. Assuming there is an outbreak, and not enough vaccines for every person in the world, immunising these well-connected individuals would remove social "bridges" by which germs can spread, experts wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface
MicroRNA-Based Attenuation of Influenza Virus across Susceptible Hosts
Influenza A virus circulates annually in both avian and human populations, causing significant morbidity, mortality, and economic burden. A study systematically targeted individual influenza gene mRNAs using the same miRNA to determine the segment(s) that yields maximal attenuation potential. This analysis demonstrated that targeting of NP mRNA most efficiently ablates replication.
Pediatric influenza news
Parents urged to make sure their children receive flu vaccination
Parents in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire in the UK are being urged to make sure their children get a free flu vaccination. As children head back to school this week, Dr Lorna Clarson who is a North Staffordshire GP, says flu can cause serious complications. Vaccinating the majority of children can help stop flu circulating among the wider population protecting all those into contact and stopping it spreading to friends and family
Over 65’s influenza news
Nursing homes should require flu shots for all staff and patients, most older adults say
As flu season swings into high gear, a new poll suggests that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should be doing more to get their staff and patients vaccinated before it's too late. Nearly three-quarters of people over age 50 surveyed in a new poll say that all staff in such facilities should definitely be required to get the flu vaccine. More than 60 percent also say that all patients in nursing homes and assisted living should definitely get vaccinated too
General Influenza News
Hong Kong health authority appeals for vigilance against increasing seasonal influenza activity
The health authority of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has appealed to the public for heightened vigilance as the region will enter the winter influenza season soon. As of Dec. 26, 2017, about 369,100 and 244,600 doses of seasonal influenza vaccines had been administered via the Government Vaccination Programme (free vaccination) and the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (subsidized vaccination) respectively, increasing by 10 percent and 3.4 percent respectively from the same period of the 2016-17 season.
Vaccine warning as Australian ‘flu threatens UK
The elderly, pregnant women and children with chronic illness in the UK are being urged to get vaccinated as the threat of the Australian ‘flu reaching our shores heightens. A Public Health England spokeswoman said: “The current ‘flu vaccine is still the best defence we have against the virus. We therefore encourage all those who are eligible to take up the offer of the vaccine.” The warning comes following reports of several deaths in Ireland of people who contracted the H3N2 strain.
Vaccine plea after "Aussie flu" deaths in the Republic
People in Northern Ireland who are eligible for the free flu vaccination have been urged to get it without delay after a number of deaths in the Republic. There have been up to 10 deaths in the Republic so far and doctors in Northern Ireland are not being complacent. However, the good news is that this year's flu vaccine has been developed to tackle the main strains circulating this season, including A(H3N2)
Wrong flu vaccine distributed in Taiwan
As the flu season reaches its peak with nearly 100,000 struck in Taiwan last week, this year's government funded free vaccines are less effective against the influenza virus as the WHO had predicted the wrong strain, though they can still offer some protection, according to the CDC. Despite being directed at different strains, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang said that the vaccine can still provide up to 30 percent protection
Australian flu: Health chiefs call on people to prepare for a possible surge in cases
Health chiefs in Northern Ireland are calling on people to prepare for a possible surge in Australian flu cases. The Public Health Agency says people who are eligible for the free flu vaccination should “get it without delay” as strains of flu seen in Australia are “increasing in prevalence on this side of the world”. The PHA says this year’s flu vaccine “has been developed to tackle the main strains which are circulating this season, including A(H3N2)”
Flu epidemic could derail health service
In Ireland, as a record 656 patients waited for a hospital bed, nurses warned that the health service could buckle under pressure from the flu epidemic. Newly-appointed INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, has sought an urgent meeting with the HSE to put a plan in place. “What I am trying to determine from them (HSE) is what they are going to do, if, God forbid, the flu epidemic takes a hold in a way that we just couldn’t cope with,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha. “I am just not sure that the HSE have a plan. We have to be assured that they do, in fact, have one.”
More than 60,000 doses of flu vaccine acquired to immunize vulnerable groups across the state
Osvaldo Servín Monroy, Head of the Department of Epidemiology at ISSEMyM, said that the vaccination program for this season was targetting 75 percent coverage, and it would be concentrating on groups most vulnerable: children, pregnant women and seniors 60 years old and above
Never, ever drive under the influenza, warns council
In Ireland, motorists suffering from cold or flu have been warned “driving under the influenza” could be as dangerous as drink-driving. If you are not well enough to undertake a journey, it could be dangerous for yourself and other road users, Mayo County Council said. Ireland is currently in the middle of a flu outbreak, which is not expected to peak for another three weeks.
Burden of disease
Infant dies from flu as local deaths, cases spike
In the U.S., a 12-month-old baby is one of 34 new flu deaths recently reported in San Diego, bringing this season’s total to 45, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced. The infant died Dec. 31, 2017. The ages of the deceased this flu season range from 1 to 100 years. All the people who died, for whom there is information available, had underlying medical conditions.
Seasonal influenza: WHO, NIH teams arrive in Multan
In Pakistan, a four-member team from WHO and NIH arrived in Multan to monitor seasonal influenza cases at Nishtar Hospital. At least 56 suspected seasonal influenza patients had been reported from Nishtar Hospital so far, out of whom 12 died, the officials said.
Flu outbreak in Snohomish County kills five; 50 hospitalized
In the U.S., influenza has killed five people in Snohomish County, part of an outbreak that has sent 50 people to local hospitals. Four of the five deaths occurred in a one-week period between Dec. 21 and Dec. 28. All had health conditions that made them more susceptible to the flu, said Heather Thomas, a Snohomish Health District spokeswoman.
Killer 'Aussie' flu sweeps the UK
Cases of the deadly 'Aussie' flu virus have soared by 156 per cent in just one week in the UK. Britain's National Health Service is bracing itself for what's predicted to be the worst flu season in 50 years, with doctors reporting patients overflowing into hospital corridors and ambulances queuing to get into emergency departments. The situation has been worsened by the ineffectiveness of this year's flu vaccine.
"Exceptional" flu epidemic grips Finland
Finland's flu season has reached the epidemic level, says Niina Ikonen, a senior researcher at the National Institute for Health and Welfare. Health centres around the country report a spike in patients with flu-like symptoms. By the end of December, there were 834 diagnosed cases of influenza A viral infections and 1,729 cases of influenza B. According to the THL, flu vaccination coverage is good this season. The agency has distributed nearly 1.6 million vaccination doses.
KP hospitals issued guidelines for acute respiratory illness
In Pakistan, the health department has issued preventive and management guidelines to hospitals for severe acute respiratory illness, which has claimed four lives in Punjab. The guidelines entitled “Public Health Influenza and Related Viruses”, ask the hospitals to adopt measures for prevention and control of seasonal influenza infections. They have been derived from documents developed by National Institute of Health Islamabad, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centre for Disease Control to prevent and control seasonal influenza infections through surveillance and establishment of dedicated wards at the hospitals.
Widespread Flu: Cases Of Flu Continue To Climb In Illinois
Flu season continues across the U.S. and remains widespread in Illinois, which has reported one child death from influenza since October. Nationwide, three pediatric flu-related deaths were reported the week of Dec. 23. The number of states reporting widespread flu activity — which includes Illinois — has increased over the two weeks from 22 to 36 states, according to the CDC.
NHS delays non-urgent operations after winter pressures
The National Health Service is not in crisis but more operations may need to be postponed to deal with winter pressures, the director of acute care for NHS England has said. Professor Keith Willett told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “A crisis is when you haven’t got in place mitigations and when you haven’t got a plan to deal with it.” His comments come after the decision to cancel all non-urgent operations until January 31 after an increase in flu and other winter illnesses put pressure on the availability of hospital beds. The move will mean that about 55,000 procedures will be deferred until February.
Flu cases cause rise in NHS A&E visits as key target is missed
Attendances to Scotland's accident-and-emergency units in the week before Christmas have risen by almost 20 per cent on the previous year after a massive increase in flu cases. Health boards attributed the rise in demand to acute seasonal illnesses, with the rate of GP consultations for flu and respiratory infections rising by over a quarter during the period.
Rajasthan sounds swine flu alert
In India, the Rajasthan government sounded an alert in the State after more than 400 people were diagnosed positive for the swine flu virus in December 2017. Rapid response teams of the health department were rushed to the areas where people were feared to have been affected by the H1N1 virus. “We are ensuring that swine flu symptoms are diagnosed early on and treatment is given,” State Health Minister Kalicharan Saraf said. According to medical and health department records, 241 swine flu deaths have occurred in the State since January 2017.
With 13 deaths, Idaho officials say this flu season is the worst they’ve seen in 7 years
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has received five new reports in one week of Idahoans who died from an influenza-related illness, bringing the season total to 13 deaths. Idaho health officials have seen more influenza-related deaths at this point in the season than in the same time frame in the previous seven seasons, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
H1N1 claimed 777 lives in Maharashtra last year, 20 in Mumbai
In India, a total of 777 people succumbed to swine flu in Maharashtra in 2017, of which nearly 20 deaths were reported from Mumbai. Nearly 1,000 people had tested positive for the viral infection last year from the city. Going by this analysis, the H1N1 virus hit the state harder in 2017 than the previous year
Aussie flu continues to wreak havoc in Britain with more than 1,600 reported cases
The deadly ‘Aussie flu’ virus is continuing to wreak havoc in Britain, with some 1,649 people being struck with it over Christmas. Public Health England data shows cases have increased by 48% over the past seven days and are higher than previous winters. The rising number of flu cases is thought to be due to a surge in two aggressive subtypes attacking the population at the same time.
GPs cancel leave and work overtime as practices are 'flooded' by flu
In the UK, GP leaders are cancelling leave or working late into the evening to deal with an influx of patients stricken by flu. This is occuring as GPs are encouraged to take on extra risk to keep patients out of hospital and after NHS England recommended hospitals cancel non-urgent appointments and operations until the end of the month.
Widespread Flu Activity Has Tripled in Two Weeks
The number of U.S. states reporting widespread flu activity tripled in just 2 weeks, as flu season continued to ramp up in the final weeks of 2017. With 36 states experiencing widespread flu activity during week 51 ending December 23, 2017, the U.S. is seeing a sharp rise in flu since reporting just 12 states with widespread flu activity in week 49. The CDC weekly FluView report for week 51 adds 13 new states to the list of those reporting widespread flu since the previous week
Flu epidemic in the Lot region of France
In the Lot region of France, the flu is here to stay. The flu vaccination campaign will be ongoing until 31st January, but by the end of December less than half the people entitled to a free flu vaccine had taken it up in the region
The number of people dying from flu and pneumonia in the West Midlands is soaring
The number of people dying from flu and pneumonia in parts of the West Midlands in the UK has increased by a third since 2013. Data released by Office for National Statistics shows that the number of deaths caused by flu and flu-related pneumonia in Walsall rose from 72 in 2013 to 97 in 2016. The vast majority of deaths in 2016 in England (25,387) were among people aged 65 or more. Public Health England has admitted the vaccine “did not demonstrate significant effectiveness in adults over 65”
Spike in flu numbers puts pressure on Winnipeg hospitals
In Canada, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says they are adding more beds to hospitals to help deal with this year's flu season after a spike in the numbers. The season is rapidly becoming similar to the 2014-15 season, said Krista Williams, chief heath operations officer for the WRHA. "There was a spike of cases and it really put that pressure on our system to meet that demand and we're seeing the same kind of similar number of cases," said Williams
Louisiana sees major uptick in flu cases; here's how to prevent, treat illness, experts say
The flu hit Louisiana in a big way in December, and medical professionals are worried that the early weeks of 2018 may prove just as bad or worse. “We have had a massive surge of the flu this flu season,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, an infectious disease specialist. O’Neal said that a year ago in December, the hospital, not counting outpatient facilities, administered 1,500 tests, and only 98 were positive. This past month saw a dramatic increase, as the hospital administered 4,300 flu tests and 1,100 were positive. The spike in activity came months earlier than normal and at levels higher than even peak times
Flu season shaping up as Iowa's worst since 2014-15
Iowa’s post-holiday crud season is hitting with a vengeance, as flu bugs and cold viruses usher in 2018. “I think we’re going to have a pretty severe year,” said Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. So far, the spike in flu cases appears to be the worst since the winter of 2014-15, state reports show
GP flu consultations spiked in run-up to Christmas
In the UK, the latest Public Health England figures on flu, covering the penultimate week of last year, show that the virus is now circulating at elevated levels, after cases soared in all UK countries. Data on flu vaccine uptake in GP patients show that 69% of over-65s received the vaccine, alongside 43% of pregnant women, 36% of two-year-olds, 37% of three-year-olds and 43% of other at-risk patients