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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 16th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Google venture arm backs UK universal flu vaccine company
Vaccitech has raised £20m from investors including GV, the venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet, to fund its universal flu vaccine through a two-year clinical trial involving more than 2,000 patients and expand other projects. The vaccine stimulates T-cells rather than antibodies - an approach that has yet to convince existing flu vaccine manufacturers like Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and CSL’s Seqirus. Vaccitech CEO Tom Evans is confident the big players will come around if the current mid-stage clinical trial is a success and he will not have a problem in finding a partner to take the product into final-stage Phase III tests
Pandemic Influenza News
BVA and BVP respond to confirmation of Avian Influenza in wild birds in Dorset
In the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed that Avian Influenza of the H5N6 strain has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset. Public Health England have advised the risk to public health is very low with the Food Standards Agency also offering reassurance that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. Defra has confirmed that this is different to the strains which affected people in China last year
Bird flu found in Phnom Penh
In Cambodia, nearly 300 chickens and ducks were culled after a new case of H5N1 was found in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district last week, officials said. Seang Borin, director of the municipal agriculture department, said that 292 chickens and ducks were killed in Phnom Penh Thmey village on Saturday, where the National Institute of Animal Health and Production found an outbreak that had infected three chickens on January 9.
Town quarantined, 609 birds killed over bird flu in Turkey's southeast
In Turkey, at least 609 birds were killed and a town was quarantined in the southeastern province of Mardin when authorities detected two birds were carrying avian influenza in the suburban Kızıltepe County on Jan. 13. Inspections are ongoing in the southeastern province regarding the disease
Another case of bird flu suspected at farm near Seoul
In South Korea, a new case of suspected bird flu has been detected at a chicken farm near Seoul, the agriculture ministry said, amid a widespread outbreak of the avian influenza in the country's southwestern duck farming region. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said suspected avian influenza was reported at a farm in Gimpo, west of Seoul. The farm, which has 500 chickens, said 10 of them died the previous day. It will take one or two days to confirm if the case is a highly pathogenic strain of the bird flu virus.
Experts call for govt intervention to prevent bird flu outbreak in WC
In South Africa, some experts are warning that another avian flu outbreak is imminent come winter if government doesn’t urgently intervene. The Klapmuts Bird Clinic’s Doctor Deon de Beer warns that if government doesn’t intervene - farmers may experience yet another outbreak when the weather gets cold: "Unfortunately we cannot win a biological battle if government stops working at 4, and start working again on Monday at 8 or 9. Unfortunately, disease control doesn’t work like that, so the government is definitely not doing enough."
Duck farm in Yunlin hit by avian flu, 3915 birds culled
In Taiwan, a duck farm in Yunlin County has been confirmed as being infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus, leading to the culling of 3,915 ducks, a Council of Agriculture bureau said. This was the fourth case of bird flu reported in Yunlin and the sixth in Taiwan this year, said Shih Tai-hua, deputy director-general of the bureau
Iran Culls Millions of Chickens to Curb Bird Flu: Official
In Iran, more than 17 million chickens have been culled over the past ten months as part of efforts to control avian flu, the head of Iran Veterinary Organization said. According to the official, 15 provinces in Iran witnessed the outbreak of avian flu.
Industry News
6-year-old Texas girl suffered rare side effects after taking Tamiflu
A 6-year-old Texas girl had nervous system problems after taking Tamiflu. Her parents say she had hallucinations and possibly tried to harm herself after using the antiviral. Experts say those are some of the rare side effects of the drug. "I don't think the 16 hours of symptom relief from the flu is worth the possible side effects that we went through," her father said. His message for parents is to make sure you do your homework before taking Tamiflu
Google-funded trials of a universal flu jab have already begun
Vaccitech is currently trialling a universal flu vaccine that aims to immunise people against all strains of one of the most major forms of the influenza virus, type A, in a single shot. Depending on the results of the trial, Evans and his team hope to eventually partner with a company that manufacturers conventional flu vaccines, and combine their products to create a more effective vaccine
Aviragen Vaxart merger to create $264m tablet vaccine firm
Aviragen Therapeutics has called on shareholders to back its proposed merger with oral vaccine delivery firm Vaxart. Vaxart's lead candidate is an oral solid dosage form of an influenza vaccine being examined in Phase II trials that has been found comparable to injectable vaccines. Aviragen is the maker of Relenza
Glaxo's Influenza Vaccine Gets FDA Nod for Label Expansion
GlaxoSmithKline received approval from the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research for the label expansion of FluarixQuadrivalent. The vaccine has been approved for infants six months or older. The vaccine, at present, is approved for active immunization against influenza A subtype and type B viruses, in persons three years of age and older
Flu vaccine 10% effective
Philip Lee Miller, MD, Founder, CEO California Age Management Institute, writes that he doesn't recommend flu vaccines to his patients as he believes them to be ineffective. He prefers antiviral treatment, writing: "the most effective is oseltamivir (Tamiflu). A second choice is zanamivir (Relenza)" and concludes by giving his own "more novel and less toxic approach that has been effective across a wide variety of viral and flu syndromes"
Flu-pocalypse? Why scientists are scrambling to make a 'universal influenza vaccine'
Sanofi, who is one of the largest makers of flu vaccines, told FOX Business that it has been “continuously focused on improving influenza vaccines” over the years. “This is evident in our introduction of Fluzone High-Dose Influenza vaccine, the first and only flu vaccine shown to have superior efficacy against influenza compared to Fluzone vaccine in adults 65 and older, and our recent acquisition of Protein Sciences, which has developed a recombinant DNA technology system for the production of recombinant proteins. The company additionally has ongoing efforts to develop a broadly protective influenza vaccine that would be effective despite natural mutation (or genetic changes) of flu strains over time,” the company said.
Vaxigrip Tetra to be available to give to children over 6 months old
The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) updated its recommendation on influenza vaccine in December and called for the use of tetra- instead of the previously recommended trivalent vaccine. Therefore, Vaxigrip Tetra (Sanofi Pasteur) can be used immediately from the age of six months.
Academic studies
Study provides evidence for continuation of annual influenza vaccination
Annual influenza vaccination is the most effective strategy available to combat seasonal influenza, but data suggest that repeated vaccination hinders cross-reactive CD8+ T-cell immunity, potentially increasing susceptibility during vaccine mismatch or a pandemic. Reporting in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the researchers said the findings suggest that there are immunological benefits from repeated annual vaccination
Extending Christmas to fight the flu
In new research published in BMC Infectious Diseases, researchers investigate how essential school holidays are in controlling influenza epidemics. School closure, a necessary break for both teachers and students, is also associated with mitigating influenza outbreaks. Purposely closing schools during outbreaks of influenza is not officially recommended by the WHO; however, this non-pharmaceutical intervention is well regarded as an approach in reducing the epidemic impact
Pediatric influenza news
AIIMS study reveals influenza in children increasing rapidly
In India, a meta-analysis conducted by the doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) showed that incidence of influenza among children is increasing rapidly in the country, and nearly 28,000 children died due to the virus in 2016. “As of now, Indian government and India Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) have recommended vaccine for the risk groups. As per IAP, lack of sufficient data to support the disease burden of influenza in India hinders the decision to include influenza vaccine in the National Immunisation Schedule (NIS),” said AIIMS doctor.
Over 65’s influenza news
Nursing homes work to keep flu away
In the U.S., with another peak week of influenza cases reported around North Dakota, and the entire nation under a widespread flu status, nursing home officials said prevention efforts are in place to protect the elderly with one area outbreak reported. There have been 16 reported outbreaks of influenza-like illness in long-term or basic care settings statewide this flu season, said Jill Baber, influenza epidemiologist at the Division of Disease Control at the North Dakota Department of Health. Patients were given antiviral medication for influenza symptoms, she said. No residents needed to be hospitalized
General Influenza News
A severe flu season is stretching hospitals thin. That is a very bad omen
In the U.S., a tsunami of sick people has swamped hospitals in many parts of the country in recent weeks as a severe flu season has taken hold. If something as foreseeable as a flu season is stretching health care to its limits, it is a bad sign for the ability of hospitals to handle the next flu pandemic. Experts in the field of emergency preparedness warned that funding cuts for programs that help hospitals and public health departments plan for outbreaks have eroded the very infrastructure society will need to help it weather these types of crises
Don't knock the flu jab – it's a modern miracle
In the UK, Jenny Rohn runs a lab at UCL, researching infectious disease. She explains why the flu vaccine is different from other vaccines (with much higher of effectiveness), and how our expectations in this respect are often unrealistic. She writes: " If the flu season turns out to be as bad in the northern hemisphere as it was in the southern, it won’t be the fault of the vaccine. Instead, we should remember that despite all its imperfections, it’s a remarkable achievement that doesn’t deserve the bad press it perennially suffers."
More than three million high-risk patients yet to have flu jab, as cases surge
In the UK, more than three million people at high risk of flu are in need of a vaccination according to top health officials, as fears grow over the current outbreak becoming an epidemic. A letter sent to every GP practice in England urged doctors to use “all remaining stocks of vaccinations” to immunise as many at-risk patients as possible in the next two weeks. It was sent after reports emerged that chemists and pharmacists were running out of vaccinations as the number of flu cases in the UK continued to rise.
Healthcare professionals may be compelled to have flu vaccine
In Ireland, a mandatory order requiring health professionals to have the flu vaccine is under consideration. Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he will consider making it obligatory for healthcare professionals to have the anti-flu jab and that numbers availing of the vaccine has increased. But he added that the uptake was still too low. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said it was opposed to the idea and it would be forced to challenge the human rights aspect of any such move.
A century ago the Spanish flu killed millions. A similar pandemic today could be even more deadly
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, writes: "We need a universal flu vaccine, one that provides effective and lasting protection against all forms of influenza. Yet with a thriving $3.3 billion seasonal flu vaccine market there is little incentive to invest in one. So, while there have been some promising developments, with trials of yet another candidate universal flu vaccine beginning last autumn, research into this field is woefully underfunded and a solution still a long way off."
CDC switches its Grand Rounds discussion from nuke attack to influenza outbreak
In a late decision, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has switched the topic of its Public Health Grand Round from nuclear-attack preparedness to “Public Health Response to a Sharp Increase in Severe Seasonal Influenza.” “The topic for CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds on [Tuesday] will now focus on influenza,” the CDC states. “With the spike in flu cases around the country, this Grand Rounds will provide key and timely information for public health professionals on how to reduce the spread of seasonal flu in communities and adjust to spot shortages in antiviral drugs because of high influenza activity.”
GP warns Bath of "serious threat" posed by flu as vaccine stocks dwindle
In the UK, a GP has warned the Bath community that this year's flu is more severe than normal and poses a "serious threat". Dr Nigel Watson, who represents some 3,755 GPs across the region, is urging those who are particularly vulnerable to the worst effects of the flu to get the flu vaccine before stocks runs out.
Medics using 30-minute flu test after influenza admissions double at South Tyneside Hospital
In the UK, as the NHS battles against the flu epidemic sweeping the country, staff at a hospital in Harton Lane, south Shields, are using a new ‘point of care’ testing kit which enables them to determine the best treatment for a patient in minutes. The treatment involves a nose and mouth swab which gives almost instant data to doctors. Knowing who has the virus is allowing them to direct specialist care to those most in need - and isolate them from those who do not have it
Burden of disease
Flu activity in Conn. increasing; 1015 confirmed cases
Flu activity has rapidly increased in Connecticut over the last few weeks with more than 1,000 confirmed flu cases in the state, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. “This year’s flu virus appears to be affecting older persons especially hard,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. “It is not too late to get a flu shot, and some people who are sick with influenza may need to be treated with an antiviral medication.”
Nationwide Flu Outbreak Leads To High Mortality Rate And Shortage Of Medication
In the U.S., according to the CDC, influenza has been reported in every state, excluding Hawaii. The virus has hit every state at the same level, which is highly unusual for this time of year. It’s had an overwhelming impact on hospitals, leading to a nationwide shortage of medication. The CDC insists that the best way to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated every year.
Flu remains widespread across Montana
Montana health officials say the flu remains widespread across the state. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reports that at the end of the first week of January, 425 new cases were reported in 38 counties, and all but three counties have verified at least one case of influenza. Altogether, 1,441 cases have been confirmed and 239 people have been hospitalized, including 47 in the most recent report
Flu activity in Canada "high" and continuing to rise, latest public health numbers say
In Canada, the number of people stricken by flu continues to rise, with 15,572 laboratory-confirmed cases for the season as of Jan. 6, the Public Health Agency of Canada says. The level of influenza activity is "in the higher range of expected levels for this time of year," the agency said in its latest FluWatch report. Last year, there were far fewer cases, with 8,976 reported by the end of the first week of January 2017. The flu is affecting people over 65 years of age the most and there have been 54 reported flu deaths in Canada this season
Is flu season peaking? Maybe, say officials, but protective steps are still necessary
In the U.S., this year’s flu season may be reaching its peak, both nationally and in Minnesota, say public health officials. During the first week of 2018, the rate of flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. climbed to 22.7 per 100,000 people — almost double what it was the week before, according to data released late last week by the CDC
Cases of "Aussie flu" rocket by 35% in a week and death toll is officially 97, figures reveal
In the UK, the flu outbreak shows no signs of stopping as cases have rocketed by 35% in a week. Government data shows 4,128 people were struck down across England last week - compared to the 3,044 new cases recorded the week before. It comes as the flu death toll across the UK is now officially 97. However, the total amount of deaths is likely to be higher as laboratory tests only capture a fraction of the true number.
Hong Kong emergency rooms expected to see surge in winter flu patients this week
In Hong Kong, public hospital emergency rooms may experience a surge this week, the government has warned, as the winter flu season began amid a spate of cold weather. The Department of Health’s Centre for Health Protection announced that it was investigating a case of severe influenza B infection in a 3-year-old boy. It said he was diagnosed with the virus, which was complicated with pneumonia and septic shock, and he was in critical condition.
Flu season "particularly intense," hasn't peaked in Hawaii yet
In the U.S., influenza is widespread through every state except Hawaii, although the season hasn’t officially peaked here yet due to the islands’ geographic isolation. Janet Berreman, Kauai district health officer for the Department of Health, said: “It is extra important, as it always is, for people to get their influenza vaccine. If they haven’t gotten it, it’s not too late in the season to do so.”
Flu epidemic: virus is stronger this year and affecting younger people more
In France, the flu epidemic has spread throughout the country and is affecting younger people in particular. It has so far caused at least 70 deaths. Younger people have not been exposed to H1N1 before which seems to be why this season is proving more severe for them
The flu is officially an epidemic in the US
In the U.S., the flu is now officially an epidemic, according to the CDC. More than half of all US states reported high flu activity within the first week of the year. A total of 7.0 percent of the deaths occurring during the week ending December 23 2017 were due to pneumonia and influenza, based on National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality surveillance data available on January 11 2018. This percentage is at the epidemic threshold of 7.0 percent for week 51, said CDC.
Flu hospitalizations up 50 percent in the UK
New Public Health England statistics show that seasonal flu levels have continued to increase in the last week across the UK. There has been a 78% increase in the GP consultation rate with flu like illness, a 50% increase in the flu hospitalization rate, and a 65% increase in the flu intensive care admission rate over the past week. The main strains circulating continue to be flu A(H3N2), A(H1N1) and Flu B.
Nova Scotia hitting period of "intense flu activity"
In Canada, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health says the province expects flu cases to spike within the coming weeks. New data from the federal Health Department shows flu activity is high and continuing to rise in Canada, with more than 15,500 cases confirmed compared to about 9,000 this time last year. In Nova Scotia, there have been 72 lab confirmed cases of the flu and one influenza-related death this season.