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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 10th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Update on use of adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccines
We are aware that NHS England circulated a letter to GP practices about the use of adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine for 2018-19 flu season on 22 December. The letter stated that the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is that the use of the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine should be a priority for those aged 75 years and over. The LMC Buying Group launched its vaccine offers for the 2018-19 season in October 2017 and discounts were negotiated with manufacturers of trivalent, quadrivalent and the new adjuvanted trivalent vaccines. In light of NHS England’s letter, Seqirus have extended their early bird discounts until the end of January.
Pandemic Influenza News
K'taka outbreak: 11 Maha districts on bird flu alert
In Maharashtra State, India, eleven districts have been put on alert for bird flu after some areas of neighbouring Karnataka reported an outbreak of the avian influenza virus. Animal husbandry department officials said that nearly 7,000 samples were checked in the state and and none of them had tested positive
Saudi H5N8 Update: 3 More Outbreaks & A Damaging Video
The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture (MEWA) reports only three new detections of H5N8 in the last 24 hours - all from `Darmaa' province - located about 70 km northwest of the Capital of Riyadh. Containment of avian flu in Saudi Arabia became more complicated when a (graphic) video went viral on Arabic social media (twitter) overnight showing cullers using primitive, inhumane methods (clubbing birds with sticks and shovels) in their depopulation efforts
Swarm incursions of reassortants of HPAI virus strains H5N8 and H5N5, clade 2.3.4.4b, Germany, winter 2016/17
The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5Nx viruses in winter 2016/2017 was the most severe HPAI epizootic ever reported in Germany. The H5N8 and H5N5 viruses detected in birds in Germany in 2016/2017 represent a reassortant swarm of at least five distinct genotypes, which carried closely related HA segments derived from clade 2.3.4.4b
The spread of bird flu looks to have stopped in the Cape
In South Africa, the Western Cape minister of economic opportunities‚ Alan Winde‚ said on Tuesday that no new cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) have been confirmed at previously uninfected poultry farms in the province since 31 October 2017. In December‚ though‚ there was a reoccurrence at a previously infected farm which was still under quarantine.
J. Infect.: Pathogenicity & Transmissibility of 3 Avian H5N6 Viruses Isolated From Wild Birds
A series of snapshots of the Asian H5N6 avian flu virus taken in 2014-2015, published in the Journal of Infection finds a progression in replication and pathogenicity of H5N6 viruses isolated from wild birds in Southern China over time. This study deals with the Asian H5N6 virus which emerged in late 2013 and has caused at least 18 human infections in China, and is not the same lineage as the H5N6 viruses reported this fall in South Korea, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Iraq culls 35,000 chickens amid bird flu outbreak
Tens of thousands of chickens have been culled after a wild bird brought the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N8 to a farm in Diyala, Iraq.
Industry News
AstraZeneca and Eisai urge UK to remain part of EMA
AstraZeneca and Eisai have urged the UK to remain a member of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The companies said they wanted the EMA to continue to oversee the movement and safety of drugs in the UK, despite the agency’s relocation. The push by the companies to remain under the EMA’s umbrella comes just days after the Financial Times reported that the UK is attempting to remain under EU regulation for medicines after Brexit.
Cepheid Receives FDA Clearance and CLIA Waiver for Xpert Xpress Flu Test
Cepheid announced it has received U.S. FDA 510(k) clearance and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments waiver for the Xpert® Xpress Flu test. The test can be performed in near-patient settings, providing rapid and accurate molecular detection of Flu A and B RNA from patient specimens, in as little as 20 minutes.
Get ready, some medical experts are predicting the worst flu season in history
Medical experts in the U.S. are worried that this year's flu season could be a nasty one that may be lethal. That's because this year's main flu strain, the influenza A virus, known as H3N2, is worse than the swine flu in 2009. A string of bad flu seasons has medical experts calling for the development of a universal influenza vaccine that would save lives. A handful of major pharmaceutical companies are supporting universal flu vaccine research, including GlaxoSmithKline; Janssen Vaccines and Sanofi.
Academic studies
Universal Flu Vaccine: Is It a Possibility?
According to a recently-published study in PLOS One, a newly developed DNA vaccine could lead to eventual 1-dose universal protection. The vaccine, developed by University of Washington researchers, is administered through the epidermis via a “gene gun” device, injecting the vaccine directly into the skin cells. The DNA vaccine is different from currently-used vaccines because it seeks out infected cells and kills them, prompting the receiver’s own skin cells to fight the infection, rather than simply repelling the virus.
Pediatric influenza news
‘Aussie flu’ outbreak set to get worse as ‘super spreader’ kids go back to school – and half aren’t vaccinated
Britain faces a flu bug double-whammy with kids back at school. The virus spreads more easily with children back at school and less than half of eligible youngsters have had the flu jab. Professor Robert Dingwall, a flu expert at Nottingham Trent University told The Sun Online the UK must brace itself for the flu crisis to "get worse before it gets better".
Flu Outbreak Paralyzes Tianjin Hospital's Pediatrics Ward
A nationwide influenza epidemic has forced a top-tier hospital in northern China to suspend its pediatric services Sunday after all of the department’s overworked doctors fell ill. Staff from Tianjin Haihe Hospital were quoted by Tianjin-based newspaper Metro Express as saying that each of the hospital’s three pediatricians had seen more than 60 patients a day since the start of winter. With the doctors at home nursing various illnesses, the hospital currently doesn’t know when the department will reopen
Over 65’s influenza news
Study reinforces importance of repeated annual flu vaccination in older adults
A study on repeated flu vaccination in older adults found that it lowers the odds of severe disease by 55% and death by 56%. The authors concluded that the prevention of severe and fatal infection caused by influenza vaccination may be greater than that estimated in previous studies, reinforcing the recommendation of annual vaccination for influenza in older adults.
Ohio numbers rise in flu hospitalizations, seniors most at risk
In response to news that flu activity in Ohio is now widespread, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Aging urge older Ohioans and their families to be aware of seniors' elevated risk of complications from flu and take steps to prevent its spread.
General Influenza News
Hospitals struggle to battle peak flu season amid widespread IV bag shortage
The flu season is straining resources at hospitals nationwide with the CDC reporting the flu is widespread in 46 states. Some hospitals are setting up emergency tents to handle the high volume of patients while others are dealing with a shortage of IV bags after Hurricane Maria cut power to manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico
Shock outbreak of new flu strain ‘overtakes Aussie flu’ in Ireland and accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of current cases
An unexpected outburst of a flu strain unforseen by health bosses is rapidly spreading across Ireland. The influenza B Yanmagata strain is not completely covered by the only flu jab currently on offer to at-risk patients in Ireland. The jab which provides more protection against Yanmagata was not purchased by the Health Service Executive. The HSE reportedly confined its stocks of vaccine this winter to the trivalent flu jab
Experts decry lack of flu pandemic readiness, commitment
Armed with 1940s-vintage flu vaccine technology and supported by only anemic funding for developing truly revolutionary vaccines, the world is woefully unprepared for the next influenza pandemic, and the Trump administration is ignoring the problem, two experts wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece
French flu warning: Symptoms of virus that’s just as deadly as Aussie flu
French flu is another type of the influenza virus - mainly H1N1 and some H3N3 cases, according to Now Healthcare Group’s Medical Director, Dr Ben Coyle. The flu virus will have similar symptoms to the deadly Aussie flu, he said. The warning came after the French Ministry of Health warned that the flu epidemic would continue to grow in France
Turns out the 'Aussie flu' isn't responsible for deaths in Scotland
Medical authorities in Scotland say the killer strain of flu sweeping the country did not originate from Australia and disputed media reporting of the number of lives claimed by the infection. But Scotland's deputy chief medical officer Doctor Gregor Smith did not provide what authorities believe is the true number of deaths caused by the flu, which has swept across the entire United Kingdom
GPs Are Going Above And Beyond To Make Sure People Have The Flu Jab
UK healthcare professionals are working around the clock to ensure people are vaccinated against the flu this year - particularly as cases of Australian flu are on the rise. The NHS confirmed staff have been actively encouraging people to take up the vaccine since September, however on a local scale it appears GPs are ramping things up a notch.
Vaccination primary public intervention against influenza: WHO expert
People should consider vaccination as the primary intervention against influenza, as the northern hemisphere influenza season starts increasing in many temperate countries, a WHO expert advised. According to Dr. Zhang Wenqing, director of WHO Global Influenza Program, influenza vaccines, which have been used every year in the past dozens of years and for which the technologies are mature, are licensed by national regulatory agencies and safe. It's the primary intervention to reduce influenza morbidity and mortality
Vulnerable urged to get flu jab as NHS feels pressure of winter
Health experts have reiterated calls for vulnerable people to get their flu jab amid increasing winter pressure on the NHS. Dr Richard Pebody, acting head of the respiratory diseases department at Public Health England, said: “Our data shows that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospitals with the flu." “The vaccine is the best defence we have against the spread of flu and it isn’t too late to get vaccinated"
Healthcare staff flu vaccination uptake too low, Shona Robison admits
In Scotland, Health Secretary Shona Robison has acknowledged that the uptake of flu vaccination among healthcare staff is too low. Ms Robison said that the uptake rate was “lower than we would want it to be” despite the efforts of health boards coupled with national resources and publicity campaigns.
Aussie flu 'to kill 750,000 people' Fears deadly epidemic will wipe out Brits
A deadly flu pandemic raging out of control could kill up to 750,000 people in Britain, the Government’s disaster planners have warned. About 155,000 could die in 21 days at the height of the flu outbreak, which includes the devastating Aussie virus. Prof Robert Dingwall, from Nottingham Trent University, fears the pandemic could kill as many as the Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1968, when a million people died worldwide.
HSE says current prevalence of two strains of flu is unusual
In Ireland, the HSE has said the current prevalence of both A and B flu viruses is “unusual”, and that this had only happened three times in the last 20 years. Dr Kevin Kelleher, the HSE’s assistant national director for health protection, said “normally our seasons are predominated by the A virus, and the B virus comes along at the tail of the flu season, so this is unusual”. Dr Kelleher confirmed the HSE purchased stocks of the trivalent flu jab following a recommendation by the WHO, which contains protection against three strains (two A strains and one B strain) of flu virus.
Worried about Australian flu? Take the long view
The so-called Australian flu is nothing more or less than seasonal flu. Seasonal flu infects roughly a billion people worldwide each year. Of those, around 5 million have severe cases and 500,000 die, so it’s not trivial, even if the vast majority of cases are mild. But Australian flu is not a pandemic for the simple reason that H3N2 is not new.
Dumfries and Galloway 'Aussie flu' reassurance offered
In Scotland, a health board which has seen a number of cases of "Aussie flu" has offered a public reassurance over its impact. NHS Dumfries and Galloway said it was a "standard strain" which was historically commonplace in Scotland. The H3N2 strain has been dubbed Aussie flu due to the problems it has recently caused in Australia. Elaine Ross, of the region's infection control team, said anyone who had been given a flu vaccination had a "good chance" of avoiding it.
DHEC urges pregnant women to get a flu shot in South Carolina
Public health officials in South Carolina issued an advisory Tuesday asking pregnant women to get the flu vaccine. A recent panel survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates only 36 percent of pregnant women had received a flu vaccine through November.
Burden of disease
Number of flu-related deaths jumps to 91
In the U.S., the number of reported influenza-related deaths in the San Diego region doubled last week, bringing this season’s total to 91, while the number of lab-confirmed flu cases was down, county health officials reported Tuesday. Despite the skyrocketing number of cases, health officials told the Board of Supervisors it hasn’t yet reached emergency status. Public health officials say it’s not too late to get vaccinated
110 cases of AH1N1 flu recorded across the country, according to the Ministry of Health
According to health authorities, a total of 110 cases of influenza A(H1N1) have been recorded during the last 15 days of December and the first few days of January. The majority of cases, 99, were concentrated in Pichincha. The next highest numbers were in Azuay, Canar, Guayas, Esmeraldas and Imbabura. At the previous meeting, the Ministry of Health spokesperson, Carlos Duran, reported that there were 43 confirmed cases of influenza between 15 to 31 December 2017. That difference (67) corresponds to January.
Flu Peaks Early In Illinois, 344 Patients In ICU In 2017
Flu season is peaking early in Illinois, with 135 more influenza outbreaks statewide compared with a year ago. Statewide, there were 344 patients admitted to intensive care units with flu-related illness between the start of 2017 and New Year's Eve, the Chicago Tribune reported. Last year, flu season peaked in February
Dallas County Flu Deaths This Season Rise to 18
Seven more people have died of the flu in Dallas County, bringing the total number of Dallas County flu-related deaths this season to 18, health officials tell NBC 5. Dallas County Health and Human Services said Tuesday that six of the patients were residents of Dallas and one patient was a Garland resident. All patients had health conditions considered to be of "high risk" and died after complications from the seasonal flu.
Pa. sees a dozen new deaths as flu continues to surge
Twelve new deaths related to the flu were reported during the week leading up to Sunday, according to updated figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Health released Tuesday. The overall number of influenza cases continued a surge that began in late December. During the week ending Jan. 6, the number of flu cases rose by about 1,500, bringing the total to about 4,500.
California flu season could be one of the worst in a decade, state officials say
California health officials said Tuesday that the state’s flu season could turn out to be one of the nastiest the state has seen in a long time. “This appears to be one of the worst seasons we’ve had in the last 10 years,” state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez said in a call with reporters. “We’re early, and we’re trending up.” Most people in California and nationwide are catching a strain of influenza A known as H3N2, which tends to be deadlier than other strains.
At least 29 people in hospital with the flu in Derby
Hospitals in Derby in the UK are currently treating 29 confirmed cases of influenza, and a further five suspected cases are undergoing testing. This comes after reports across the country of a sharp rise in the number of people reporting flu-like symptoms. However, Public Health England has said that the recent rise in cases is "in-keeping" with previous years.
Severe flu in California brings medicine shortages, kills 27
California is reeling from a particularly severe surge in cases of the flu—with pharmacies running out of medicine, packed emergency rooms and a rising death toll. State health officials say that 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October. That’s compared to three the same time last year. National health officials predict the flu vaccine may only be about 32 percent effective this year. But most people are catching a particularly dangerous strain of influenza that the vaccine typically doesn’t work well against. Pharmacies are also running out of Tamiflu due to a sharp rise in demand
This flu season most severe city has seen, says Calgary E.R. head
In Canada, Calgary is experiencing one of its most severe flu seasons. The latest flu numbers show Calgary has had far more hospitalizations and deaths than any other part of the province before the Christmas season even hit. Craig Jenne, an assistant professor in the University of Calgary's department of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases, said scientists are starting to see evidence that this year's flu vaccine isn't as effective as in past years. But science is starting to show there is good reason to not miss the annual flu shot. "New evidence out this year says even when the vaccine completely mismatches, if you get vaccinated year after year, you might still get sick but you get less sick," Jenne said.
More Deaths Reported As Flu Continues To Grip North Texas
In Texas, officials with Dallas County Health and Human Services confirmed seven more flu-related deaths, bringing the total in that county this season to 18. While doctors say the strain of flu causing the spike can’t be avoided with the flu shot, they still recommend that everyone get the vaccine.
Pregnant woman dies from flu in Middle Tennessee
In the U.S., a pregnant woman died from the flu in Middle Tennessee, marking the state's fourth death during the 2017-2018 flu season. Tennessee Department of Health officials said last week that three children had died from the flu in the state
70-year-old woman year’s first victim of swine flu in Lahore
In Pakistan, the first swine flu case of 2018 has appeared in Lahore with a 70-year-old woman testing positive for the disease. Swine flu is fast becoming a menace for the population of Punjab; in December 2017, five people died because of the disease in Multan’s Nishter Hospital. However it is not just swine flu that has been claiming lives. An outbreak of seasonal influenza in Multan has claimed 17 lives in the last 23 days with a total of 47 patients being diagnosed with the disease.
Barrington student, 10, dies of flu complications: officials
In Illinois, a 10 year-old has died from complications from the flu. Last year, a total of four flu-related pediatric deaths were reported in Illinois. It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether the child had received a flu vaccine this season or not
Flu case numbers spiking across Canada, but peak could be few weeks off: experts
The number of flu cases is continuing to rise across Canada, suggesting the peak of infections with one of the dominant circulating strains could come within a few weeks — or even sooner, say infectious diseases experts, who describe this influenza season as “unusual.” “We really haven’t seen a season quite like this in a little while,” said Dr. Michelle Murti of Public Health Ontario, referring to the mix of two primary strains making people sick during this year’s epidemic.
Flu map shows an increase in North East cases as virus spreads and doctors warn of 'real crisis'
In the UK, flu is spreading through the North East with a heatmap showing an increase in cases over the past three days. ‘Aussie flu’ is putting pressure on the NHS this winter, with more than 1,650 admitted to hospital around the country diagnosed with the strain. Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said a “real crisis” had developed since New Year’s Eve.