"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 18th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Think flu season is bad? It could get worse before it’s over
“Flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now,” said Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the national Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Most flu vaccines are made using eggs, which are less hospitable to growing the H3N2 strain and thus less likely to develop an effective vaccine. That strain goes through more changes over time than other versions, so vaccines are often behind the curve when they reach the general public. Recent advances in manufacturing have yielded two immunizations that aren’t made in eggs: Sanofi’s Flublok and CSL Ltd.’s Flucelvax
Rite Aid Corporation Urges People To Get Flu Shot
In the U.S., with the CDC announcing widespread flu activity in 46 states, Rite Aid is urging people to get vaccinated and combat the flu. Rite Aid pharmacies are offering three different types of flu vaccines: the quadrivalent flu vaccine, the standard trivalent vaccine, and a trivalent vaccine with adjuvant, FLUAD.
Pandemic Influenza News
"Wiped out" bird flu back
India is scrambling to stamp out an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus that popped up last month in poultry birds in Dasarahalli village near Bangalore, about six months after India declared itself free of this virus. The National Institute for High Security Animal Diseases has confirmed the infection as the highly pathogenic avian influenza serotype H5N8, the Union agriculture ministry told the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
Philippines added to APHIS avian influenza list
USDA’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) has added the Philippines to the list of regions affected by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza of any subtype. This action comes after HPAI was reported in the Philippines in August 2017.
Avian flu found in wild birds in Dorset
In Northern Ireland, the Ulster Farmers’ Union is urging poultry farmers to be vigilant in light of several confirmed cases of Avian influenza in Dorset, England. UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt is strongly recommending that all poultry keepers, including backyard keepers, review their biosecurity measures and business continuity plans now, as the risk level may well increase in the coming weeks.
Islamic State member in custody dies with bird flu in Mosul hospital
An Islamic State member held in custody has died after being infected with bird flu in Mosul, a medical source from Nineveh province said on Tuesday. Medical sources were quoted saying that al-Salam Educational Hospital in eastern Mosul recorded three deaths with the disease, while the fourth case was recorded at al-Shifa Hospital. Last Thursday, Iraqi agriculture minister Falah Hassan declared that a poultry farm caught the infection in Babil province, days after another infection focus in Diyala province was brought under control.
New bird flu cases detected in Riyadh
In Saudi Arabia, four new bird flu cases were detected in the Riyadh region, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said on Tuesday. The ministry, in a press briefing, said since the outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu virus, it collected 3,304 samples from the various regions for lab tests.
Cambodia Issues Health Warning Over Bird Flu Outbreak in Phnom Penh
Health officials in Cambodia have urged calm after an outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in Phnom Penh last week. Hundreds of birds were taken in for testing by health officers in the capital’s Sen Sok district. Officials were quick to clarify that no humans had been found to have been infected by the H5N1 virus
Highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in dead goshawk found in Tokyo
In Japan, the Ministry of Environment said that highly pathogenic H5N6 type of avian influenza virus was detected in a dead northern goshawk that had been found earlier this month at a park in Tokyo’s Ota Ward. The ministry raised its warning to a Level 3 — its highest — from the current Level 2, as other bird flu cases were reported in the western part of the country over the past few months. If more dead wild birds are found, they will conduct more detailed examinations, the ministry said.
Industry News
NHS bosses urged GPs to purchase a cheaper flu jab that doesn't protect against deadly "Japanese flu", leaked files reveal
In the UK, health chiefs ordered GPs to order cheap flu vaccines which are ineffective against the strain of flu causing most havoc in the UK, leaked files show. NHS England asked doctors to purchase the trivalent jab. In guidance sent to local bosses, they warned that buying the quadrivalent jab would add 'significant cost pressures' amid concerns over funding
Century after pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu
There's no way to predict what strain of the shape-shifting flu virus could trigger another pandemic or, given modern medical tools, how bad it might be. But researchers hope they're finally closing in on stronger flu shots, ways to boost much-needed protection against ordinary winter influenza and guard against future pandemics at the same time. Labs around the country are hunting for a super-shot that could eliminate the annual fall vaccination in favor of one every five years or 10 years, or maybe, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last for life.
What Makes This Flu Season So Bad
There are four different types of influenza virus, three of which infect people. Of those three, influenza A and B are the most common and each of those subsets develops different strains. H1N1 and H3N2, for example, are strains of influenza A, and they adapt by constantly changing their surface proteins. "The holy grail is to target a piece of the virus by antibody or t cell," says Tom Evans, the CEO of Vaccitech which is working on a universal vaccine they hope can be used to treat all strains of influenza A.
This Google-Backed Biotech Is Trying to Create a Universal Flu Vaccine
Google parent Alphabet’s venture arm GV is among the companies backing Vaccitech, which has set out to achieve one of medicine’s most-sought milestones: developing a universal flu vaccine. The universal vaccine is moving into mid-stage trials, which means successful studies could lead to a commercial launch by the mid-2020s, according to Vaccitech CEO Tom Evans.
Curevac to launch phase I trial for RNActive prophylactic vaccine targeting seasonal influenza
CureVac has outlined key 2018 milestones in conjunction with its presentation at the 36th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Among these is the launch of phase I trial for RNActive prophylactic vaccine targeting seasonal influenza
Academic studies
Being Born During a Flu Pandemic May Increase Your Risk of Death During Another Flu 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.
Influenza vaccine effectiveness against influenza A(H3N2) hospitalizations in children in Hong Kong in a prolonged season, 2016/17
Influenza A(H3N2) viruses circulated for 12 consecutive months in Hong Kong in 2016-2017, peaking in late June and July 2017. The objective of a new study was to estimate the effectiveness of influenza vaccination in preventing hospitalizations in children in Hong Kong. Influenza vaccination was effective in preventing hospitalizations in children in Hong Kong.
News Scan for Jan 17, 2018
Starting antiviral treatment early may reduce the size of flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities, researchers from Taiwan reported in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. Starting antiviral treatment within 2 days of an outbreak's start was associated with keeping attack rates below 25%, cutting the risk of an event developing into a large outbreak to about one-third.
Pediatric influenza news
CareDox Secures $16 Million in Series B Financing to Transform Pediatric Health
CareDox, a pediatric healthcare technology leader, announced it has closed a Series B financing of $16 million. Recently, CareDox partnered with HealthySchools, a Florida-based public-private partnership that seeks to promote pediatric health by administering influenza vaccines at partnered schools. HealthySchools is leveraging CareDox technology to manage the digital workflow associated with its vaccine and well care visit program for underserved children.
Revealed: Healthy children among 50 to die from flu in five years
In Ireland, up to 50 children have died from flu in the last five years, including a minority of young victims who were healthy with no previous risk factors. The HSE confirmed “less than 10” youngsters under 16 die annually from winter flu. So far this year hospitalisation rates have been highest among the over-65s and infants under a year old.
Over 65’s influenza news
Connecticut Sees Rise In Flu Cases Among Elderly
Connecticut public officials say that hospitalizations for the flu have been on the rise over the past five weeks. The Department of Public Health says there have been 1,015 people diagnosed with the flu as of the first week in January. More than 450 people have been hospitalized with confirmed cases since late August. 70 percent of them are ages 65 and older. There have been 15 flu-related deaths in that age group
Influenza hitting residential care facilities hard across Interior Health Authority
In Canada, procedures for dealing with outbreaks of influenza in residential care homes within the Interior Health Authority have prevented some seniors from returning to their homes and others from finding one. Medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema confirmed there have been complaints from people who have left their residential care facility for a medical procedure at an acute care facility, only to be told they cannot yet return because an outbreak has occured when they were gone
General Influenza News
How a government shutdown could affect drug safety, flu response, and more
In the U.S., unless Republicans coalesce this week around a short-term spending deal, the federal government will shut down — a scenario that will likely have widespread and long-lasting consequences for public health. If the government does shut down this week, it will do so in the midst of a one of the worst flu seasons in recent years. That could change whether the influenza decision is considered “essential,” according to the former officials.
Is it worth getting vaccinated now?
Any vaccination against flu is useful protection, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The current triple vaccine does not protect against certain influenza B viruses from the so-called Yamagata lineage, which, according to RKI, caused more than half of all previously proven influenza cases. There is a component for this lineage in the quadrivalent flu vaccination, which is why it is recommended by the Vaccination Standing Committee. In higher risk patients this is a factor to be looked at more closely
Here's Why the Flu Is Especially Bad This Year
On Friday, the CDC announced a first in its 13 years of flu monitoring: As of Jan. 6, every part of the continental U.S. showed “widespread” flu activity. The CDC estimates that the flu vaccine will be effective against roughly 30% of H3 viruses this year. That said, the CDC still recommends that you get vaccinated if you haven’t already, as there could be as many as 13 weeks of flu season still to come.
Israeli Medical Association rejects mandatory flu shots for doctors
Although many US hospitals require all medical personnel who are in direct contact with patients to get influenza shots every autumn, the Israel Medical Association only recommends the vaccine to its 25,000 members, while it refuses to allow those who have been vaccinated to wear a tag or pin saying so. IMA chairman Prof. Leonid Eidelman, who is chief of anesthesiology at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva, said that doctors should not be forced to get the vaccination. “And even if they do voluntarily wear a pin showing they were vaccinated, it doesn’t give a good impression about those who don’t. There is a slippery slope; doctors could be forced to wear pins saying they have HIV or hepatitis C. It would never end.”
Special report: Banburyshire GPs encourage getting flu jab to avoid illness
GPs in Banburyshire in the UK are assuring people in vulnerable categories it is not too late to be vaccinated against flu. He gave his advice after news reports revealed that the NHS has obtained a trivalent rather than quadrivalent vaccine this year which covers more of the strains of the flu virus.
Flu vaccines available in York after recent shortage
Flu vaccines are available again in York in the UK after supplies recently ran short amid a serious outbreak. This week, The Press reported how many York pharmacists had run out of the vaccine, as new figures indicated the city had the highest rate of influenza in England. On Wednesday, health bosses encouraged residents to get vaccinated against flu, and said while some providers were running low on vaccine, "many pharmacies and GP practices do have stocks available".
WHO seeks national plans to respond to influenza outbreaks
Influenza outbreaks in different parts of the world demand national plans that must be flexible enough to respond to outbreaks of various intensity, says a World Health Organization communication received in Pakistan Wednesday. It was emphasized that the impact of pandemic influenza on individuals and societies can be reduced by being well prepared. A comprehensive plan that could be further refined through conducting exercises, engaging the whole of society was suggested as an essential requirement for countries prone to experience the outbreak
Prompt Use of Antivirals is Key This Flu Season
A recent sharp increase in influenza A(H3N2) activity in the United States has prompted the CDC to release a health advisory emphasizing the importance of its antiviral treatment recommendations this season. The CDC also explains why flu vaccine effectiveness against influenza A(H3N2) viruses may be lower compared to other influenza viruses. One reason is “egg-adapted changes.” Other vaccine production technologies, e.g., cell-based vaccine production or recombinant flu vaccines, could circumvent this shortcoming
PSNC reassures on seasonal flu vaccine stocks
In the UK, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has moved to reassure community pharmacy contractors that there is no seasonal flu vaccination shortage. The pharmacy negotiating body said flu vaccinations were still available within the pharmacy wholesaler market so pharmacies needing vaccinations should be able to source them. During the 2017–2018 flu season so far, more than 1.175 million vaccinations have been given by pharmacies under the community pharmacy seasonal influenza vaccine service, according to figures provided to PSNC by PharmOutcomes, Sonar Informatics and NHS England/NHS Business Services Authority.
NHS pharmacists urged to have seasonal flu jab
In the UK, NHS pharmacists have been urged to remember their “shared professional responsibility” to protect patients and get vaccinated against seasonal flu. The move follows rising numbers of patients becoming seriously ill and hospitalised with the virus in recent weeks. In a letter signed by leading clinicians, all NHS staff have been asked to “play their part” in protecting public health.
The flu vaccine does not protect you against the current strain found in Italy
The National Higher Institute of Health has tried to clarify the present situation for those concerned. The flu strain most widespread this season, contrary to expectations, is the Yamagata B strain, which is not contained in the overwhelming majority of trivalent vaccines administered. It is a strain present, however, in the quadrivalent version of the vaccine, which accounts for 40% of the total of 184,167 doses delivered to ASL and then distributed onward to doctors and paediatricians. A note of caution. The quadrivalent cannot be given to children under 3 years of age. This was only given approval by the Italian drug agency just a few days ago.
The flu vaccine is only about 30% effective but you should get it anyway
Some media reports have speculated that this year’s flu shot will only be about 10% effective for Americans, based on results seen in Australia during its flu season. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects this year’s effectiveness rate to be closer to last year’s number, between 32% and 39%.
Burden of disease
Colorado health officials say flu-related hospitalizations are double the average
One of the more active flu seasons in recent years is taking its toll in Colorado. The state has already seen about 2,000 influenza related hospitalizations this season, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. One pediatric death was reported this week for a child that was unvaccinated. Health officials say the best way to combat the flu is to get the vaccine.
Beijing Authorities Say Flu Epidemic to Subside Within Two Weeks
After weeks of increasing rates of infection that have affected tens of thousands of city residents, Beijing authorities are assuring the public that the flu outbreak will begin to subside over the next two weeks and described the possibility of a major flu epidemic as unlikely. The Beijing Health and Family Planning Commission said the current rate of flu transmission is increasing at a slower rate than earlier in the year
Record number hospitalized in Ohio for flu during first week of 2018
Ohio is seeing record flu numbers to start 2018. The Ohio Department of Health said 1,750 people were hospitalized because of the flu during the first week of January, a record number. That’s nearly three times as many people as normal. Despite this year’s vaccine being only 30-35 % effective, Dr. Koenig said you’ll still benefit from the flu shot.
Flu epidemic exceeds threshold for the first time in Belgium
In Belgium, with 160 consultations per 100,000 inhabitants, the epidemic threshold of flu was exceeded for the first time this season, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Scientific Institute of Public Health (SIP). The SIP advises people in at-risk groups who are not yet immunized to contact their GP to assess their individual situation.
Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks
Florida seems to be faring better than other states with regard to the flu. California has reported 27 flu-related deaths already, and hospitals are setting up tents to help treat the overwhelming number of patients seeking help. Tampa Bay area hospitals are reporting a sharp increase in the number of patients coming into emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms, but no single hospital seems overwhelmed by the number of patients.
Flu warning at hospital as doctors ask people to stay away
In the UK, senior doctors have issued a fresh call for people with cold or flu-like symptoms not to visit patients in hospital, as high flu rates continue. Dr David Walker, medical director at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, is urging those with flu to stay away as it could be passed to patients who are already unwell. He also recommends getting a flu shot
CDC: 20 children dead from flu in US this winter
In the U.S., officials at the CDC said 20 children across the country have died from the flu this winter. Seven died last week. In Illinois, hospitals are taking extra precautions to ensure more people don't get sick. "We're limiting visitors so that we try to prevent flu from going out into community," said Dr. Anthony Marinelli, a pulmonologist.
This Flu Season Is Bad, But It Doesn't Deserve the Hype
In the U.S., the 2017-18 flu season has been “relatively bad,” according to Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But it’s certainly not the worst season he can remember. “The 2014-15 season was just as bad, if not worse,” Fauci told MD Magazine. “Though the perception has been ‘Wow, this is unprecedented,’ in no way is it unprecedented.”
Flu "War Zone" Cripples California Hospitals; Tents Set Up to Handle Influx of Patients
In California, hospitals are so overwhelmed by the influx of flu patients that they have been forced to fly in nurses from out of state and are turning away ambulances. Some have set up tents in parking lots to triage the inordinate numbers of flu patients coming for care, while scheduled, voluntary surgeries are being postponed to free up resources. The CDC notes that this year's vaccine is only expected to be about 32 percent effective because H3N2 tends to mutate.
Aussie flu mapped: You're most at risk of deadly infection if you live here
A map showing flu hotspots across the UK revealed the number of infections has risen over the past two weeks. The interactive map - by online influenza surveillance system Flusurvey - reveals the areas worst hit by the virus. As of Wednesday morning, the North-East of England was the most affected area.
Around 8,000 people affected by the influenza virus, the seasonal peak season is here
Between the beginning of December 2017 and the first week of this year, over 3m Italians were hit by flu, a dizzying figure, one that has not been as high as this for 15 years. In the first week of 2018 there was another jump in the number of cases (by about 800,000), fuelled mainly by young adults and the elderly.
Influenza B outbreak being monitored at Health Sciences North
In Canada, Health Sciences North in Sudbury says it's currently dealing with an Influenza B outbreak. It says the outbreak is affecting the third floor intensive rehabilitation unit in the South Tower of the Ramsey Lake Health Centre
Aussie flu strain found in 37% of influenza cases in North Wales as 52 people currently in hospital battling illness
There have been over 50 positive results for the ‘Aussie' strain of flu in North Wales. 402 people who went to hospitals in North Wales at the end of December and beginning of January complaining of flu symptoms were tested for influenza. There were 136 positive flu results, 51 of which were for the Australian strain of the virus.
One confirmed Aussie flu case in the Isle of Man
On the Isle of Man, there has been one confirmed case of Aussie flu. New Health Minister David Ashford said there had been one confirmed case of the H3N2 flu strain but the patient was not admitted to hospital. ’There had been one confirmed case but they were treated externally,’ he said
Pneumonia is one of the deadliest infections killing 30000 Brits a year – and flu can trigger it
In the UK, the flu season is shaping up to be one of the most serious ever with cases of the Aussie and Japanese flu sweeping across the country. And with the spike in people becoming ill with the flu also comes a rise in the number of flu-related deaths, with pneumonia being one of the most deadly conditions caused by the bug