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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 11th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
The flu is here — and so is a new advisory from the CDC
The CDC has issued an advisory on the flu, including the fact that the flu vaccine may not be very effective. Estimates are that it’s about 32% effective, while last year it was 39% effective and most years it’s 40% to 60% effective. Still, vaccination is highly recommended. Antivirals can also shorten the course of the illness
The flu vaccine offered 'no significant protection' for elderly people last year
In the UK, the flu vaccination was ineffective in protecting the elderly last winter, health experts have warned. Dr Richard Roberts, head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme in Public Health Wales, said a new vaccine will be introduced in 2018-19 which specifically offers additional protection for the elderly. The jab will contain an adjuvant which helps to boost the immune system
Is Tamiflu Effective Against This Year's Flu?
For people diagnosed with influenza, doctors may prescribe an antiviral drug. The most common antiviral is probably oseltamivir, better known to consumers under the brand name Tamiflu. Other options include peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza). While no antiviral is guaranteed to defeat the flu, they typically make the illness less severe, lessening the serious complications that can come with the flu
Pandemic Influenza News
Japan reports first suspected bird flu case in poultry this winter
Japan’s agriculture ministry on Wednesday reported a suspected case of bird flu in Kagawa prefecture, western Japan, potentially marking the country’s first bird flu outbreak in poultry this winter. The ministry said chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa tested positive in a preliminary examination on Wednesday for highly pathogenic avian influenza. The government may order all 100,000 chickens at the farm to be culled if the results of genetic tests confirm the infection
Dangerous outbreak of bird flu in Iraq
Iraq has reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu strand, prompting the government to cull thousands of birds in a bid to stop the disease from spreading in the country. According to the OIE, the virus was discovered at a farm in Diyala province at the end of 2017. The avian influenza strain H5N8 killed 7,250 birds before Iraqi officials culled the remaining 35,750, the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture reported.
No new bird flu cases reported in WC
In South Africa, the Western Cape may finally be free of bird flu, at least in chickens. Western Cape Agriculture MEC Alan Winde says no new cases of avian influenza have been reported in recent weeks. “To date from October to now, there have been no new cases in unaffected poultry farms. However, the vets are still detecting the virus, specifically amongst swift terns in wildbirds.”
We're not ready yet for a flu pandemic
As bad as this winter’s flu epidemic is, it won’t compare with the flu pandemic that is almost certainly on the horizon if we don’t dedicate energy and resources to a universal vaccine. Although the National Institutes of Health has publicly declared developing a vaccine a priority, it has only about $32 million this year specifically for such research. There is no apparent effort to make these vaccines a priority in the current administration of the United States
Bird flu scare in Karnataka: Maharashtra govt tells 6 districts to monitor health situation
In India, the Maharashtra government has issued an advisory to six districts to monitor the health situation after suspected cases of bird flu were reported in Karnataka. Health officials in Nanded, Sangli, Osmanabad, Latur, Kolhapur and Solapur, have been asked to raise awareness in poultry farms and look for possible infected cases in bordering villages
UK reports H5N6 in wild swans as study assesses live-bird markets
In the latest avian flu outbreak developments, the UK reported its first detection of highly pathogenic H5N6, based on sampling from mute swans found dead, and South Korea reported another poultry farm outbreak involving the virus. In the latest research findings, scientists who have been watching avian flu virus levels in Cambodia's live market poultry reported higher levels since their last report, along with coinfections in the birds that pose a risk of emerging reassortant viruses.
Industry News
Lupin receives FDA approval for generic Tamiflu Capsules
Pharma Major Lupin announced that it has received final approval for its Oseltamivir Phosphate Capsules USP,30 mg (base), 45 mg (base), and 75 mg (base) from the U.S. FDA to market a generic version of Roche's Tamiflu Capsules, 30 mg, 45 mg, and 75 mg
Flu season: Manufacturers say they have "sufficient" Tamiflu, Relenza
The CDC published the following yesterday concerning the antiviral drug supply: Manufacturers have stated they have sufficient product on hand to meet projected demand for the 2017-2018 flu season. As influenza antiviral drugs are mainly used seasonally, patients may want to consider calling a pharmacy in advance to see if they have drug on their shelf. If the pharmacy does not have product, they may be able to identify another pharmacy in the area that has antiviral drugs in stock.
It's The Flu Season From Hell. Should We Take Tamiflu?
in response to H3N2, the CDC has recommended the use of antiviral influenza drugs, mainly Tamiflu (generally not considered a great drug). A review of Tamiflu's strengths and weaknesses, as well as Relenza's, the Cochrane findings, showed that neuraminidase inhibitors are poor drugs. A flu shot seems a better option
Academic studies

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Pediatric influenza news
Ohio reports first child flu death this season
A 4-year-old boy is the first child to die from the flu in Ohio this season. The Ohio Department of Health said: "Vaccine effectiveness against H3N2 viruses has been around 30 percent. Vaccine effectiveness against other circulating flu viruses has been about 60 percent for H1N1 viruses, and around 50 percent for influenza B viruses. A study also done on flu vaccination said that it can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza."
'Japanese' flu strain that particularly affects children spreads across Britain
A strain of 'Japanese' flu that can particularly affects children is spreading across the UK, health experts have said. Doctors are urging parents to take up free jabs against Yamagatu flu. Children between the age of two and eight are being offered free "quadrivalent" jabs against both the Japanese and Australian strains. Experts say this is because young children are high-risk 'super shedders'
Over 65’s influenza news
Repeat Flu Shots Offer Lingering Benefits in Elderly: Study
A new study has found that older adults who get the shot every flu season were less likely to die or be hospitalized with severe complications. People over 65 who got the flu shot every year but were taken to the hospital with influenza were twice as likely not to get severe complications of flu or die, according to the study
General Influenza News
CDC official on why the flu is near-epidemic, peaking early this year
A dangerous flu has been spreading rapidly across the U.S., escalating flu season earlier than usual, and to near-epidemic levels, according to the CDC. Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan from the CDC, joined "GMA" to address the concerns and misconceptions about this year's flu cycle.
Pharmacy told to wait two weeks for more flu vaccine
In Ireland, a pharmacist who ordered supplies of 20 flu vaccines from the HSE on January 6 was told they would not arrive for two weeks - despite the current outbreak. Ultan Molloy had to take to social media, tweeting Health Minister Simon Harris to get a more urgent response, but the vaccines will still not be delivered until next Monday.
"Aussie flu": Australia not to blame for the virus spreading to UK, experts say
Aussie flu is a variant of the H3N2 subtype of the influenza A virus. It was dubbed "Aussie flu" because it was the same type observed during the Australian winter, in which more than 170,000 people contracted the flu. Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Queen Mary University of London, said he was not surprised people were concerned. However, he said Australia was not to blame for it.
The flu season has now started, the next few weeks are crucial
The first cases of flu began to be confirmed at the start of the New Year in the district of Kulmbach. "On January 2, the first proven influenza was reported to us.There is now about one confirmed case a day.The flu cases are still manageable, but you do get to realize that in this area the peak seasonal flu season begins now," said local health expert Camelia Sancu. The Robert Koch Institute in Berlin expects to see, over the next few weeks, the onset of a full flu epidemic in Germany.
Is It Time for a Universal Influenza Vaccine? The Virus Is Getting Deadlier
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, experts say you should go get it now, even though some have estimated the flu vaccine may only be 10 percent effective against this year’s most common strains. We could be doing better than 10 percent, with a universal flu vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci and his colleagues recently wrote a paper explaining the importance of a universal flu vaccine for the New England Journal of Medicine
MSP has managed to vaccinate more than 4m people against influenza
The Ministry of Health in Ecuador has managed to reach more than 4m people in its vaccination campaign to protect the most vulnerable at risk groups in the country against influenza
Flu vaccination campaign has hit 85% coverage of target group - ISEM
Almost 2 months after the start of the flu vaccination campaign in Mexico the Ministry of Health says it has managed to reach 85% of the the most at risk target group that it was seeking to protect, with more than 2.1m doses distributed.
Vaccinations against the flu are still important - flu epidemic expected to hit soon
The winter has been mild so far, but the peak of the flu season is yet to come. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the beginning of the annual influenza wave is expected to start in Germany during the coming weeks
36,919 doses to fight against influenza
The head of the National Immunization Strategy (ENI), Carmen Varela, indicated that the vaccination campaign began on January 5. The doses are intended for all children under six months to those who are one day after their fifth birthdays. Varela said that among the people who should be vaccinated are pregnant women, people with catastrophic illnesses, health personnel and elderly people.
Flu Epidemic Expected in Bulgaria by the end of January
Two big flu outbreaks are expected in January 2018 in Bulgaria. The AH3N2 flu virus, more popular under the name Hong Kong strain and the AH1N1 swine-flu virus. Doctors from Bulgaria warn that now it is too late for vaccines. The vaccines should be applied in the period September-October in order to offer adequate protection
The flu costs Americans $10.4 billion in medical expenses and another $7 billion in lost productivity
The flu costs the U.S. an average of $10.4 billion annually for medical expenses like hospitalizations in addition to $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity. This year’s aggressive strain of illness could cost us even more, doctors say. The CDC is encouraging Americans to get their flu shots if they have not yet.
H1N1 flu not lethal, but prevention vital: expert
In Pakistan, Karachi has regularly reported H1N1 influenza cases in the months of December and January since 2009, but this particular strain is not causing any severe infection, as its mortality rate is only 0.1 per cent, or one in a thousand, an expert said, urging people however to get the flu vaccine
Health chiefs insisting flu vaccine programme will protect against new strain of the virus
Health chiefs in Northern Ireland are insisting their flu vaccine programme will protect against a new strain of the virus. It was reported in the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday that authorities are concerned over the ‘B Yamagata’ strain because the vaccine available there is not designed to protect against it. The vaccine does deal with the widely reported Aussie flu, which is an ‘A strain’ of the virus. However, the Public Health Agency says a nasal spray being offered to children as part of their seasonal flu vaccination programme does protect against the B Yamagata strain.
French flu warning: ‘Lives at risk’ as virus spread by people without any noticeable signs
French flu symptoms are similar to the deadly Aussie flu viral infection, and has killed a reported 30 people in France. The contagious illness could be spread by people that aren’t showing any signs or symptoms. The warning came after the French Ministry of Health said the flu epidemic would continue to spread across the country.
Flu vaccine seems effective in France
In France, it seems that over half the flu infections so far this year have been caused by an influenza A type strain, which was included in the flu vaccine; 77 % of the flu virus detected so far in France are A (H1N1), and 10 % are H3N2. A French specialist expects the flu vaccine effectiveness to be around 60 to 70%
Did President Donald Trump Get the Flu Shot?
In the U.S., multiple requests to the White House about the President’s inoculation status went unanswered. In 2015, during an interview, Trump was asked if he gets the flu shot every year, and said no: “I’ve never had one… Thus far I’ve never had the flu. I don’t like the idea of injecting bad stuff into [my] body, which is basically what they do…I’ve never had a flu shot, and I’ve never had the flu…I have friends that religiously get the flu shot and then they get the flu… I’ve seen a lot of reports that the last flu shot is virtually totally ineffective.”
Better design needed for flu vaccine, experts say
In Canada, infection experts say we need to improve the technology behind the current, imperfect flu vaccines that offer less protection than expected because they’re grown in eggs. Moving out of egg-based vaccines would improve protection, said Dr. Brian Ward, professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the research institute of the McGill University Health Centre.
The anti-vaccine movement shows why Facebook is broken
Naomi Smith, a sociologist at the Federation University Australia, spent a year observing Facebook users who share, like and comment on thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories on the safety of vaccines. In a recent study analyzing hundreds of thousands of anti-vaxxer comments, she and colleague Tim Graham illustrated just how dangerous this digital world has become.
Vaccination campaign against the A(H1N1) virus expects to reach 4 million Ecuadorians
The National Government said on Monday that it hopes to get 3,900,000 people vaccinated aganst influenza in the coming campaign. Focusing in on the most at risk above all else "Any type of health center, type A, B or C, are the health centers that are supplied with this vaccine. The vaccine is targeting three million 900 thousand inhabitants. It's totally free, "said Vice Minister of Governance and Public Health Surveillance, Inti Quevedo.
Burden of disease
The flu epidemic continues to have Switzerland in its grip
Switzerland continues to be in the grip on a flu epidemic: the disease is widespread, especially in western Switzerland, Ticino and the canton of Graubunden. The flu has hit hardest children between the ages of 0 to 4 years and people between the ages of 30 and 64 years. Last week, doctors from the Sentinella reporting system reported 62.9 suspected cases of influenza per 1,000 consultations, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) website on Wednesday. This data can be extrapolated to 331 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Flu cases rise sharply
In Switzerland, the flu epidemic rose again sharply for the third week in a row. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) speaks of an "stronger than expected" epidemic, because the vaccine appears to have had only a limited effect. "We do not have an explanation for that. It's a new phenomenon," said Daniel Koch of the BAG Division Communicable Diseases. In the case of B viruses, which are dominating this year, it is actually unusual for them to trigger such strong flu epidemics. It is not yet foreseeable how this whole situation may develop going forward.
Flu epidemic: 15 to 64 years old group worst affected in France
In France, people between the ages of 15 to 64 years old are the worst affected by the flu epidemic this year: exactly how many deaths in that age group can be attributed to the flu isn't clear yet, but it is likely that one of the flu strains circulating is new to younger people's immune system, making them more vulnerable
Short respite from the flu epidemic
In France, data on the first week of January shows a fall in the number of flu symptoms seen by doctors. However this respite may be short-lived as children go back to school. Besides, the A(H1N1) strain is new to younger people and causing more hospital stays. The Health Ministry is keeping up the awareness campaign advising people on how to avoid spreading or catching the flu
100,000 flu cases and 1 death as outbreak worsens in Taiwan
Over 100,000 people sought treatment for the flu in emergency rooms across Taiwan as the Type B influenza outbreak spreads in Taiwan, and the number of cases will probably continue to increase, the Centers for Disease Control announced. Currently, there are 100,000 doses of the free flu vaccine still available, and those who have not been vaccinated yet should go ahead and do so
Strain of "Japanese flu" set to spread across Scotland and children are at most risk
A new strain of flu is set to spread across Scotland after hitting the UK - and children are most at risk. 'Japanese flu', which is more contagious than the 'Aussie flu' also sweeping the country, puts kids aged two to eight in the danger range. The virus, known as Yamagata flu, has already hit Ireland and now UK doctors are advising parents to have their young children vaccinated against the bug. Children are more susceptible because they are what experts call ‘super shedders’, meaning they excrete more of the virus because their immune systems cannot distinguish between what makes them ill and what will kill them.
Deadly flu season hits California particularly hard
In California, more patients are being hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, some stores have had spot shortages of flu medications, and there have been 27 flu-related deaths reported among patients younger than 65, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Flu Claims More Lives As the Virus Continues to Hit the US
With flu activity now widespread across most of the United States, the CDC says the 2017-2018 flu season is looking much like 2014-2015, the country’s most severe flu season in recent years. According to the CDC’s weekly FluView report for week 52 ending December 30, 2017, 46 states are reporting widespread flu activity, up from 36 states during the previous week.
He was 21 and fit. He tried to push through the flu — and it killed him
A fit and healthy 21 year old man has died from the flu in the U.S., highlighting the dangers of flu complications. Each year, as many as 650,000 people die from respiratory complications related to influenza. “These figures indicate the high burden of influenza and its substantial social and economic cost to the world,” Peter Salama, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said in a news release. “They highlight the importance of influenza prevention for seasonal epidemics, as well as preparedness for pandemics.”
Killer ‘Aussie flu’ is more severe than swine flu – but fears of a pandemic are ‘over the top’
Individuals struck down by the H3N2 bug are likely to feel more violently ill than those who battled swine flu during the pandemic of 2009-10. But, the new strain does not appear to be as infectious as H1N1, so is unlikely to hit as many people. Professor Robert Dingwall, flu expert at Nottingham Trent University, said fears of an "Aussie flu" pandemic are "over the top"
Hong Kong enters winter influenza season
In Hong Kong, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health announced that local seasonal influenza activity has continued to increase in the past week and exceeded the baseline level, indicating that Hong Kong has entered the 2017-18 winter influenza season.
Six Influenza Related Deaths Reported
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department confirms there were 6 deaths from influenza in the past two weeks within Santa Barbara County. All 6 individuals were over age 65. This number is significantly higher than the number of deaths typically recorded during previous influenza seasons
North West in ‘red zone’ as Aussie flu outbreak continues to spread
Statistics released by the HSE shows that the ‘Aussie flu’ has spread to all parts of Ireland, with the East of the country being the worst affected. The maps, which reflect figures collected between week 51 and 52 of 2017, illustrates the rampant spread of the illness. The Aussie flu is currently categorised as having “localised activity” in Donegal
120 influenza cases confirmed across the country
In Pakistan, a total of 400 suspected cases of H1N1 influenza have been reported across the country so far, out of which 120 influenza positive cases have been confirmed in the country, resulting in 20 deaths.
"Aussie flu" outbreak: Hospitals in Cumbria see spike in cases
In the UK, a Cumbrian health boss says cases of flu are on the rise in hospitals across the county. It comes as some GP surgeries in the county are running low on stocks of the flu jab, with the threat of Aussie flu prompting a high uptake of the vaccination locally.
"Aussie flu" is "more severe than the Swine flu" pandemic of 2009 which killed nearly 300,000 people across the world, expert warns
The dreaded 'Aussie flu' is more severe than the Swine flu pandemic of 2009 which killed nearly 300,000 people across the world, an expert has warned. Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at Oxford University, believes this winter 'may well be worse than others'. His fears come amid the emergence of H3N2, an aggressive strain of influenza A that rocked Australia during its winter and triggered triple the usual number of cases.
Deaths and hospitalizations rise as flu season hits full swing
In the U.S., with flu season now in full swing — causing widespread illness in 46 states — health officials across the country are reporting waves of misery, rising hospitalizations and some deaths. It is still too soon to say just how bad this flu season will be, but there are troubling signs in some places.
H3N2 virus has reached the UK
In Australia, 170,000 people have been infected with the flu virus. More than 300 died from it. The pathogen, named as H3N2, has reached Britain. But the problems there have other causes, an expert suggests. Professor John Oxford argues that the resulting problems are not due to the Aussie virus but to the country's lack of investment in health. "There is a shortage of doctors and nurses, and politicians are trying to push these abuses onto the flu virus," said the virologist, who works at the University of London.
About 90% of all the influenza cases we are seeing appear to be of the milder variety - Ministry of Health
In December 2017 there were some 43 cases of A(H1N1) influenza while there were none in the corresponding month one year earlier. The head of Infectology at the Hospital Carlos Andrade Marín, David Larreategui, said this virus is now freely circulating and people, particularly those most at risk, ought to get themselves protected by getting vaccinated