"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 17th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Influenza: Vaccination Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 15th January 2018.
Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care answered a Parliamentary question, in part, by saying: "Public Health England has updated their advice in the Green Book chapter on influenza so that clinicians are aware of the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in relation to the adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine. In addition, NHS England wrote to general practitioners and clinical commissioning groups (via NHS England local teams) in December 2017 to provide an update on the use of the adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine for 2018/19."
Think Flu Season Is Bad? It Might Get Even Worse
The influenza virus that’s sickened millions of Americans is already the most widespread outbreak since public health authorities began keeping track more than a dozen years ago. Now, with the threat of more strains emerging, it might get even worse. The flu vaccine being grown in eggs also makes matching to the strains a difficult process. Recent advances in manufacturing have yielded two immunizations that aren’t made in eggs: Sanofi’s Flublok and CSL’s Flucelvax. Flublok is a recombinant vaccine, which includes only the protein expressed on the surface of the influenza virus, while Flucelvax is grown in mammalian cells. Since neither uses eggs in the manufacturing process, it’s possible that the vaccines that result may look more like what’s actually circulating
Google venture arm backs UK universal flu vaccine company
Vaccitech has raised £20 million from investors including GV, the venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet. Vaccitech said the cash would help fund its flu vaccine through a two-year clinical trial. The vaccine works by using proteins found in the core of the virus rather than those on its surface. It also stimulates T-cells rather than antibodies — an approach that has yet to convince existing flu vaccine manufacturers like Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and CSL’s Seqirus
Neuraminidase inhibitor indications, recommendations for treating influenza
As 2017 closes out, national influenza activity is increasing in the U.S. All 10 US regions characterized by the CDC have reported elevated outpatient influenza-like illness, i.e., above the national or regional-specific baseline. Of all specimens tested positive for influenza virus by national collaborative laboratories, 81.5% have been confirmed as influenza A; of influenza A specimens tested, the vast majority (approximately 90%) have been subtype H3N2. Of 470 influenza viral specimens tested, 100% remained sensitive to the neuraminidase inhibitors — Tamiflu (oseltamivir, Genentech; and generic), Relenza (zanamivir, GlaxoSmithKline), and Rapivab (peramivir, Seqirus)
Pandemic Influenza News
First avian flu winter outbreak confirmed
In the UK, veterinary authorities are urging vets and poultry owners to remain vigilant following the discovery of highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu in 17 wild birds in Dorset. BVA president John Fishwick said: “I’d encourage vets to reassure their clients this strain of avian influenza poses a very low risk to public health and the food chain.
Bird Flu: Highly pathogenic H5N8 case outbreak near Bengaluru in Karnataka, says report
A report from the Indian agriculture ministry noted that according to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there is an outbreak of the disease near Bengaluru in Karnataka, according to Reuters. As per the report, the H5N8 virus was detected on 26 December among birds in the village of Dasarahalli, killing 9 out of 951 birds.
Turkish town shutdown after bird flu outbreak
In Turkey, a town has been quarantined in the province of Mardin after authorities detected two birds carrying the influenza virus. Officials killed at least 609 birds, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet, after locals reported that the animals were dying. Test results later showed that the birds had bird flu
3 bird flu cases give "no cause for alarm" in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, three new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) have sprung up in Riyadh, Dammam and Al-Ahsa, but a senior official from the Health Ministry said there is no cause for alarm since this influenza has not affected anybody in the Kingdom or in other parts of the world
News Scan for Jan 16, 2018
India reported its first highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak of the year, with Iraq and Saudi Arabia reporting more events involving the strain. Elsewhere, Cambodia reported another highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreak, and Taiwan reported three more H5N2 outbreaks.
Industry News
Medicines regulator sets out no-deal Brexit plans to calm pharma industry fears
While the UK will work to secure a transition period based on current EU rules, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said in the event of no deal and a split with the European Medicines Agency, it would be "pragmatic" in setting new UK regulatory requirements. Christiane Abouzeid, the head of regulatory affairs at the UK BioIndustry Association, said the update was welcome and "provides public clarity" on the UK’s current regulatory relationship with the European medicines network of member states and the EMA, as well as its planned approach to a potential no deal scenario.
Tamiflu Side Effects: 6-Year-Old Tried To Jump Out The Window, And It"s Not The Only Reported Case
In Texas, a six-year-old girl with influenza experienced strong side effects after taking Tamiflu. The girl started to hallucinate and ran away from school, then tried to jump out of a window. This is not the first time that people, especially children, have experienced severe side effects from Tamiflu. There have been a number of other cases in which kids and teenagers had nightmares, hallucinated, jumped out of windows, or showed other signs of abnormal behavior
Several Upstate pharmacies short on generic Tamiflu
In North Carolina, this flu season, Tamiflu is in high demand. But if you want to save money with the generic version of Tamiflu, that may be hard to come by. At many pharmacies across the Upstate, the generic Oseltamivir is on back order so it’s not available.
UK biotech Vaccitech raises £20m for universal flu shot
Vaccitech has attracted £20m in first-round financing from investors - including the GV venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet - towards its universal flu vaccine programme. Vaccitech has started recruiting volunteers for a phase IIb trial of its candidate that will continue through the 2018/2019 flu season. BiondVax also has a two-dose candidate called M-001 in clinical development and said in December that it intends to start a phase III trial in the third quarter of this year.
Deadly flu outbreak hits Kentucky and Indiana
In the U.S., dozens of flu-related deaths have been reported in Kentucky and Indiana, and doctors are noticing the drastic spike in flu cases over the past two or three weeks. Many local pharmacies are reporting a limited supply of Tamiflu. Tamiflu’s parent company, Genentech, said there is not a shortage, but some places could be running out as cases spike quickly and they wait for new shipments
What is the future for the vaccine industry?
Vaccine producers often point to urgent need to find an antidote to prevent a series epidemic spreading as a reason to slow research and production on other fronts, allowing for a hiatus, in some cases, of planned trials of new products coming onto the market to treat serious diseases. The writer believes drug companies are coming under a variety of pressures to respond and he questions the model
Doctor eases concern over Tamiflu, after child experiences serious side effect
In the U.S., as the most severe flu season in years rages on there is new concern about possible side effects of Tamiflu, after a report of a child attempting to harm herself while on the medication. Dr. Frank Esper with the Cleveland Clinic says reactions like this are rare. However, psychiatric side effects of Tamiflu have been seen before in patients primarily of Asian heritage for reasons unknown
Academic studies
Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule. New data analysis suggests that people born at the time of the 1957 H2N2 or Asian Flu pandemic were at a higher risk of dying during the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic as well as the resurgent H1N1 outbreak in 2013-2014. And it is not the first time this has happened.
Flu could lead to Parkinson's disease, warns study as the killer "Aussie" and "Japanese" strains of the virus spread
The flu outbreak wreaking havoc in the UK could cause Parkinson's disease, a study warns. Scientists have found 'evidence' that H1N1 can lead to the incurable neurodegenerative condition. It is currently active in the UK. Trials on mice showed the strain, responsible for 300,000 deaths across the world in 2009, leaves sufferers susceptible to toxins known to trigger Parkinson's. Other strains circulating the UK currently, including H3N2 and B Yamagata could pose the same threat
PATH and partners exploring pathway to universal flu vaccine
PATH has partnered with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and Duke Clinical Research Institute to conduct a study into chimeric hemagglutinin vaccine technology that could pave the way for future universal influenza vaccines.
Pediatric influenza news
This Flu Season Is Particularly Severe: Here's How to Protect Yourself and Baby
One of the best ways pregnant women can protect their babies is by getting a flu shot. Studies have shown that when an expectant mom is immunized against the flu during pregnancy, it can have protective effects that prevent the baby from getting the flu for several months after birth.
Over 65’s influenza news
What Should You Know And Do About The Flu If You Are Over Age 65?
While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease, the CDC says. They are encouraged to get a flu shot as well as take other preventative measures to protect themselves from the virus
General Influenza News
Flu stresses hospitals, shows we're not ready for emergencies
Experts agree the U.S. is not ready for a bad flu epidemic, or even for some other disaster that would affect hospital supplies. And funding cuts mean even a little strain has a bigger impact than in years past. This year’s flu season is moderately severe, but not anywhere close to being one for the record books. So far, it’s not as bad as the 2014-2015 flu season, the CDC says. Many reports have pointed out these weaknesses in the U.S. emergency infrastructure, yet year after year budgets are slashed, public health workers are laid off, and recommendations for increased preparedness funding are ignored by Congress.
STIKO: Protection against four flu vaccine strains is better than protection against three
The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has explained in its latest Epidemiological Bulletin why it now recommends quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccines moving forward, though, current recommendations for immunization still apply
Aussie flu latest: Cumbrian pharmacies restocking as vaccine demand soars
In the UK, Jeff Forster, chief officer at Cumbria Local Pharmacy Committee, has stressed that the flu vaccine is still available and said most pharmacies now say they are ordering more in to meet demand. Hospitals across Cumbria say they are continuing to see a rise in the number of patients seriously affected by flu.
Flu: why this year's outbreak is one of the worst
There are three red flags this flu season, and they are that H3N2 viruses typically causes more hospitalisations and deaths in older people, there are difficulties in producing effective H3N2 vaccines, and there’s more than just H3N2 to consider, especially in the UK this year. Although good against the other strains, this season the vaccine is about 20% protective against H3N2 viruses (not great, but better than nothing) as the virus changed unavoidably during production. This is due to a quirk of how flu vaccines are produced. They are grown in chicken eggs, and then inactivated before being used in vaccines.
NHS staff urged to get flu vaccination
In the UK, NHS leaders have renewed their call for all NHS staff to get the flu vaccination in an attempt to help reduce the spread of flu this winter. England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies is one of a group of leading doctors and nurses who have written a letter to NHS staff urging them to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Official estimates are that around 59% of staff across the NHS have had the vaccine, but that means 41% have not and in some trusts, less than 30% of staff are protected.
The flu jab rip-off: Private GPs accused of cashing in on the crisis by charging £45 for vaccine that costs the NHS £8
In the UK, private GPs have been accused of cashing in on the flu crisis by charging as much as £45 for a vaccine that costs the NHS £8. And some clinics are charging up to £75 for a nasal immunisation spray for children that costs the health service £18. Although patients in certain ‘at risk’ groups – including the over-65s – get vaccinated for free on the NHS, the majority have to pay privately.
"Smart Thermometers" Track Flu Season in Real Time
A company making “smart thermometers” that upload body temperatures to its website claims to be tracking this year’s flu season faster and in greater geographic detail than public health authorities can. This year’s flu season — which the CDC considers “moderately severe” — has left Missouri and Iowa the “sickest states in the country,” said Inder Singh, the founder of Kinsahealth.com. Kinsa’s technology was approved by the FDA in 2014 and gathered data in subsequent flu seasons; the company hopes to soon publish a study by outside experts assessing its accuracy in measuring the seasonal spread
How bad will the flu epidemic be?
The flu season is just beginning in Germany and all the signs are set for trouble. The virus this year seems to be the influenza A / H3N2 subtype, which has caused the majority of illnesses in the US and Australia, is the most unpleasant seasonal influenza strain. Historical data shows that in years with high levels of H3N2, on average, nearly three times as many people die of influenza and its consequences than in normal years, especially older people over the age of 65 years.
We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine before the Next Pandemic Strikes
Recently the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases convened a workshop with leading experts in the influenza field to address the need for better influenza vaccines. Among many obstacles to developing a universal vaccine, the most formidable is our incomplete understanding of the immune responses that protect people against influenza, including the role of immunity at mucosal surfaces. One approach is to design a vaccine to generate antibody responses to parts of the virus that are common to all influenza strains and do not readily change by mutation. It is also crucial to clarify how other parts of the immune system work together with antibodies to protect against influenza.
Forcing health professionals to get flu vaccine is ‘regressive’, union says
In Ireland, any attempts by the Minister for Health to make the flu vaccine mandatory for health professionals would “push it into another sphere”, Siptu says. Paul Bell, the union’s health division organiser, said such a move would be "regressive". Mr Bell said there were many reasons why health care professionals might not want to get the flu vaccine such as a fear of “needle sticks” or the side effects from the vaccine.
GPs urged to use all remaining stocks of flu vaccine in next two weeks
GPs across the UK have been asked to use their remaining flu jabs to immunise all eligible patients within the next two weeks. NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh and chair of RCGP professor Helen Stokes-Lampard co-signed a letter in which they urged GP practices to make sure the remaining three million eligible patients get their free flu jab injection. The news comes amid reports some pharmacies were running low on vaccine stocks, but pharmacist representatives said stocks were available at wholesale level.
PSNC tries to avert panic over flu crisis by insisting vaccine stocks are available
In England, the PSNC has attempted to reduce the alarm generated by reports that pharmacies are running low on flu vaccinations by insisting stock is available within the pharmacy wholesale market. The Telegraph claimed that pharmacies were turning away people looking to get vaccinated across England due to a lack of stock, with shortages occurring in Cumbria as well as 10 branches of Boots in the Midlands, the east, south and south-west of England.
The influenza strain may bypass the vaccines effectiveness. That's why an epidemic has broken out
Despite doctors saying getting some extra 10% of the most at risk population vaccinated against the flu it is still too low, at just over 50%. The number of people reporting influenza symptoms is already high and the main problem appears to be the prevalent flu strain, Type B Yamagata, which many feel is not probably covered by the flu vaccine avaialble
Burden of disease
Influenza widespread in most states
CDC officials reported that influenza is widespread across the continental United States. The H3N2 subtype appears to be the most predominant strain, said Daniel Jernigan, MD, director of CDC's influenza division. "Flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now," Jernigan said
Influenza claims two more lives in Multan, death toll rises to 23
In Pakistan, two more patients died of seasonal influenza in Multan taking the death toll to 23. The outbreak has become a cause of concern among the authorities. The citizens have also raised concerns regarding the lack of free tests and vaccines for influenza patients at Nishtar Hospital
Number of flu patients rises in Japan with 1.24 million new cases reported in first week of the year
In Japan, an estimated 1.24 million people caught influenza in the first week of January, up from around 1.01 million the previous week, a state-run institute said. A delay in flu vaccine production this season has caused a shortage. But the health ministry has said the necessary amount of vaccine can be secured by restricting people aged 13 and above to taking only a single shot.
Flu widespread but may be peaking with more than 17000 cases across Pennsylvania
In the U.S., flu is now widespread in every state except Hawaii, but the good news is the season appears to already be peaking. An update from the CDC showed patient traffic for flu was no longer skyrocketing the way it was in December. "It looks like it's starting to level out," said the CDC's Lynnette Brammer, who oversees flu tracking. Still, flu is unpredictable. "I don't know where it will end up," she added.
Flu cases and deaths are on the rise in Pakistan—but should we be alarmed?
In Pakistan, the flu has hit with full force this season. An increasing number of cases are being reported from across the country, with a simultaneous increase in reports of flu-related fatalities. The WHO and the NIH are conducting investigations into flu deaths in Multan, which seems to have been hit harder than other cities in Punjab.
Albania on brink of flu epidemic: health expert
Albania is on the brink of a flu epidemic with hospitals across the country registering around 11,000 patients affected by respiratory infections and flu in a week, the Institute of Public Health warned. Artan Simaku, an expert from the institute, told reporters that the virus was mainly affecting children and the elderly. Health experts have urged citizens to get the flu vaccine
Increase in influenza cases starts to slow down in Beijing
In China, the number of flu cases reported in Beijing is increasing at a slower rate, and the spread of infections is predicted to lessen in the next two weeks, the Beijing Commission of Health and Family Planning said. The number of flu cases reported in Beijing has been rising rapidly since December, with children younger than 4 accounting for the biggest share among people of all age groups
Pediatric flu deaths prompts vaccine push as New York faces tough influenza season
Doctors urged New Yorkers to get flu shots as pediatric deaths surfaced recently while a potentially record influenza season approached its peak cycle. The public-health warning comes after authorities in New York and Connecticut reported their first flu-related deaths took the lives of two children.