"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 19th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Questions and Answers About This Year’s Flu Season
In the U.S., the 2017-2018 flu season is considered “moderately severe.” Large numbers of Americans have fallen ill, and every state except Hawaii has reported widespread flu activity. The flu shot’s efficacy has not yet been calculated because the virus is still spreading, but experts expect it to be about 30 percent. Antivirals are working: of all the samples tested so far by the C.D.C., only 1 percent were resistant to oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir, the ingredients in Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab.
Influenza Vaccine in Children: Recommendations From the AAP
In an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement, annual seasonal influenza vaccination was recommended for all individuals age 6 months or older, including patients with egg allergies. The recommendations emphasized the importance of prompt identification of children suspected of having influenza for initiation of antiviral treatment. Oral oseltamivir, inhaled zanamivir, and intravenous peramivir are all treatment options for influenza in children
CSL earnings to gain from bad US flu season
According to US Food and Drug Administration data, CSL's vaccine business, Seqirus, has increased its share of US flu vaccines in the 2017-18 season to roughly 50 per cent from 42 per cent last year. The $64 billion blood products giant expects Seqirus to break even this year
People With HIV Take Note: This Year's Flu Strain Can Be Dangerous, Especially for Elders
This season's flu is considered "moderately severe" and is already "widespread" in 49 states, according to the CDC; the H3N2 strain is considered one of the deadlier, especially for people over 65. Although there's no evidence that that this year's flu is hitting older people with HIV harder than others, there's ample reason for older people with HIV to be cautious. The FDA has approved two flu vaccines specially designed for seniors: Fluzone High-Dose, and FLUAD, which includes an adjuvant that bolsters the body's immune response. Both of these vaccines are recommended for people over the age of 65 living with HIV
Pandemic Influenza News
Bird Flu prevention zone now covers whole of England
A bird flu prevention zone has been declared across the whole of England after more dead wild birds were found with the virus. It means all poultry and bird keepers have to follow strict measures to protect their livestock from the disease. 13 dead wild birds have been confirmed to have the virus in Warwickshire - along with 31 in Dorset.
"No need" for Scottish bird flu measures
The Scottish government has said it will not be changing its status on bird flu despite a prevention zone being declared for the whole of England. It comes after avian flu was found in wild birds in Dorset and Warwickshire. There have been no reported cases of avian flu in Scotland, but the Scottish government said it was monitoring the situation.
Industry News
Science takes its best shot at fighting 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.
Firm advances human trials of revolutionary vaccine
No versatile influenza vaccine is on the market, but one of the most promising is being developed by FluGen, a spinoff from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The startup has announced a plan to evaluate its innovative influenza vaccine in a trial of 100 people later this spring. For almost a decade, the company has been exploring a genetically altered virus that can reproduce only once in the human body. "Our vaccine contains a live virus that infects you but cannot make you sick," says CEO Paul Radspinner
PHC takes steps to increase access to Tamiflu for Medi-Cal recipients
In California, due to the severity of the current flu season, Partnership HealthPlan of California is lifting its prior authorization requirements on prescriptions for Tamiflu and its generic versions in an effort to increase access to the antiviral drug for PHC’s Medi-Cal members. “California is experiencing one of the worst flu seasons in years,” Dr. Robert Moore, PHC’s Chief Medical Officer said. “In light of this urgent situation and because we want our members to have all the care they need to fight the flu, we are streamlining access to generic oseltamivir and brand name Tamiflu.”
Academic studies
Toward a Universal Flu Vaccine
Researchers have inched closer to a universal flu vaccine, using a genetically modified live virus to safely protect a small number of mice and ferrets against influenza. Called hyper–interferon-sensitive or HIS, the vaccine uses a live virus containing genes that have been mutated in eight locations. The mutations make the virus less dangerous and reduce its ability to evade interferons, the front line of our body’s built-in immune response, said Yushen Du, M.D., Ph.D., who led the research
Scientists Move Closer to a Universal Flu Vaccine
The University of California, Los Angeles–led group reported in this week’s Science that they may have created the “Goldilocks” of flu vaccines—one that manages to trigger a very strong immune response without making infected animals sick. And unlike current flu vaccines, the new version also fuels a strong reaction from disease-fighting white blood cells called T cells.
Could AI One Day Detect the Flu…Before You Even Feel Sick?
New research suggests that subtle facial cues alert us to infections mere hours after they take hold. This research could one day help train AI systems to detect illness as well. Developers are already working on a variety of neural networks – systems that learn on their own by analyzing huge amounts of data – to detect signs of illness earlier or better than humans can.
Flu may be spread just by breathing, new UMD-led study shows
It is easier to spread the influenza virus than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from an infected person's coughs or sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces. But, new information about flu transmission reveals that we may pass the flu to others just by breathing.
Pediatric influenza news
Why younger people are particularly affected by the flu this season in south-east France
This flu season in south-east France, younger people seem to be the main victims of the flu. Last year the H3N2 strain was targeting the over 75s, but this year the H1N1 strain is proving more serious for younger people, in particular the under 15s.
Child Care, Long-Term Care Facilities Get Tough Against Flu Outbreak
In Minnesota, long-term care facilities and child day cares are on alert to help prevent the spread of flu as the state has recently seen an explosion of influenza cases. Health experts are describing this year’s flu season as severe and one of the worst in recent memory. One child has even died this season from the flu in Minnesota. Local care providers are working hard to prevent an outbreak.
Flu deaths among children rise, "closer to 50%" of local children have flu vaccine
In the U.S., doctors say many parents aren’t getting their kids vaccinated against the flu. "I'd say it's not as high as it should be,” says Dr. Clint Pollack at Valley Children’s Hospital. “We’d like to see 100 percent, but I think it’s closer to 50%.” He says some of the parents don’t have access to healthcare for their kids. Others didn’t realize the kids needed the flu vaccine, too
Two-thirds of pregnant women aren't getting the flu vaccine. That needs to change
In the U.S., a report from the CDC in December showed that only about one-third of pregnant women are getting flu shots. A startling 64 percent of pregnant women had not been vaccinated against the flu, despite recommendations from the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. While 98 percent of pregnant women reported visiting a doctor or other medical professional at least once before or during pregnancy, the CDC found that only about 59 percent reported receiving a recommendation for and offer of flu vaccination from a doctor or other medical professional, while 16 percent received only a recommendation for — but no offer of — the vaccine. A whopping 26 percent received neither a recommendation for nor an offer of flu vaccination.
Kids' Vaccinations Are On The Rise But So Are Parent Refusals
In the U.S., an increasing number of children with commercial health insurance are getting their recommended vaccines while a small but growing number of parents are also refusing vaccinations for their kids, a new report from some of the nation's largest health insurers shows. The rising number of refusals, though still a small percentage of commercially insured children, is a sign that more education needs to be conducted in communities across the country about vaccine safety, doctors say.
First pediatric flu death in nearly 4 years confirmed in Arkansas
The CDC reported flu related hospitalizations nationwide nearly doubled in the last week and flu activity continues to spread here in Arkansas. Fourty-nine people have died across the state this season according to the Department of Health and, on the morning of Jan. 16, one little boy passed away less than 24-hours after being diagnosed.
Influenza - pregnant women should also for the quadruple flu vaccine
Pregnant women who have not yet been vaccinated against flu can still catch up, according to Christian Albring, president of the professional association of gynecologists. He says they should ask their health insurance company if they are prepared to pay for the quadruple flu vaccine to help them through this period. Only this vaccine is also effective against the currently circulating Influenza B Yamagata type viruses. The four shot flu jab was also recently recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). So far, by default, health insurance companies have paid mainly for the cheaper triple flu shot vaccine.
Over 65’s influenza news

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General Influenza News
Doctors "were told to use cheaper flu vaccine"
In the UK, NHS bosses asked GPs to use a cheaper, less effective flu vaccine, it has been claimed. A senior doctor said that the decision may have led to a rise in patients being admitted to hospital with influenza. Nick Scriven, president of the Society of Acute Medicine, told HSJ: “Not using the quadrivalent vaccine has increased the risk of flu admissions. Half of the flu cases we are getting are the A strain, half are the B. “It’s probably about half the cases that are coming into hospital that may have been prevented.”
Senate health committee begins reapproval process for nation"s hazards preparedness law - Homeland Preparedness News
Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for instance, said the office has enough domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity to produce bulk vaccines for each American within six months. However, emergency supplemental funding has been depleted, he added, and the H7N9 influenza virus is currently circulating in China. “We are concerned with the ominous trends that we are seeing,” Kadlec said.
Winning the war on flu: Number of cases halved
In Jersey, offering flu jabs in pharmacies and a nasal vaccine to all primary school pupils has helped cut the number of reported cases of the virus by nearly half compared to last year, health experts have said.
Almost 4 million people have already been affected by influenza in Italy. The country has not seen as many cases as this since the last occasion in 2004
The flu continues to spread across Italy but there appears to be a slight decline in the epidemic curve: which, write the ISS experts, "gives us hope that the last fortnight could be the seasonal epidemic peak". The incidence level is still "very high" and equates to 13.73 flu cases per thousand
Hong Kong schools could do more to promote flu shots
In Hong Kong, during the Christmas holidays, public hospitals were again overwhelmed by patients infected with seasonal influenza. While recruiting private doctors and leasing beds from private hospitals could alleviate the shortage of health services in public hospitals, the government should also make more concerted efforts to promote influenza vaccination among the vulnerable groups in the city, especially schoolchildren.
New vaccine should help in fight against the flu
Now a new conventional triple flu vaccination against the flu has got approval. As studies show, the conventional triple vaccine against the pathogens can often prove to be less than effective. The Robert Koch Institute estimates that the quadrivalent vaccine has eliminated 270,000 flu-related illnesses each year. But whether the new drug costs will be covered by the health insurance sector is still less certain.
Influenza puts many in bed
The number of influenza cases continues to increase. Last week, the Sentinella reporting system reported 44.4 suspected flu cases per 1,000 consultations, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) website. Extrapolated this becomes 365 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. There were 331 cases last week. Four-year-old children with 488 cases per 100,000 inhabitants continue to be the most affected group. This is followed by the over-65s with 379 cases and the 15 to 29-year-olds with 370 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The flu is widespread in all regions of Switzerland. In the cantons of Aargau, Solothurn and the two Basel areas, as well as in central Switzerland, the number of suspected flu cases continues to rise across the country
Flu outbreak spurs vaccine R&D effort
Drugs companies are developing a new vaccine to combat the various flu strains that have swept China this winter, a respiratory expert told Guangzhou Daily. "The most dominant strain this flu season has been B/Yamagata, which the current seasonal vaccine does not cover," said Zhong Nanshan.
Catholic Church has new guidelines in midst of flu epidemic
In New Mexico, the Catholic Church has some new guidelines because of the recent flu epidemic. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe sent out a letter to churches throughout the state. The letter says parishioners don't have to shake hands during mass or drink the wine during communion. The state health department also said if people don't get the flu shot, they’re not only putting their own health at risk, but the risk of others.
GP warns - get a flu jab before they run out
In the UK, Dr Nigel Watson is the chief executive of the Wessex Local Medical Committee, which represents GPs across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, Dorset and Bath and north-east Somerset. He said that there is a ‘serious threat that we face with the rising number of cases of influenza’ and that it risks not only people’s health but will stretch the NHS as well. ‘General practice will have limited stocks of flu vaccine left and we are being asked by the medical director of the NHS to use these stocks to vaccinate the eligible patients within the next two weeks.’
Inside the flu lab, team in Temple working on next year's flu vaccine
Baylor Scott & White in Temple, in the middle of Texas, is one of five locations across the U.S. conducting daily tests on influenza swab samples taken from patients, determining which strain of the flu each patient carried, whether those same patients had received vaccines, and to what level current vaccines may or may not have worked. Manjusha Gaglani, MD, who leads the Vaccine Effectiveness Program there, confirms that this year’s vaccines are proving the least effective against the H3N2 strain of the flu. And it is the strain they are finding the most in lab tests
Burden of disease
UK "in grip of worst flu season since 2011"
The UK is in the grip of its worst flu season for seven years, figures show. All parts of the UK have seen rises in suspected flu cases since the turn of the year with Wales seeing the sharpest - close to a fourfold increase in GP visits to 64.9 cases per 100,000. The last time there was more flu circulating than this was in 2010-11 when swine flu, responsible for the pandemic of the year before, came back.
Flu surge continues as GP visits rise 42% in a week
In the UK, the RCGP has warned that flu presentations in general practice have risen by 153% since the start of the year, and 42% during this week alone. Its Research and Surveillance Centre found that an estimated 31,300 patients in England visited their GP for flu in the week running from 8 to 14 January. Wales is now the hardest-hit part of the UK, with intensity of flu reaching ‘high’ levels according to EU definitions.
The HSE confirm deadly virus has killed more than 20 people
In Ireland, the HSE has confirmed that 24 people have died as a result of the flu virus so far this season. The statistic was released in a report by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre. The report also noted the average age of people who lost their lives as a result of contracting the flu was 68 and underlying conditions were thought to be a factor in many, but not all of the fatalities.
9 more Hong Kong flu patients die, bringing death toll to 32 for 2018, as Macau leader also sick
Nine more flu patients have died in Hong Kong this week, bringing the death toll since the start of the year to 32. This week, between Sunday and Wednesday, 18 adult flu patients were recorded as severe cases in Hong Kong. Since the official start of the winter flu season on January 7, some 41 adult sufferers have been classified as severe. Twenty-three of these died. Most of the deaths were elderly patients, aged 65 or above.
DHEC published new flu numbers for South Carolina: It keeps getting worse
Nine people died from the flu in South Carolina during the second week in January, numbers published by the state health department show. This latest report brings the death total to 24 people in South Carolina from flu this season, which started in October. Most victims have been at least 65 years old. No children have died from the flu so far in this state.
Blood in high demand due to severe flu season, unhealthy donors
As the flu continues to spread across the U.S., there is an urgent call for blood donations. In Bay Area, seasonal illnesses, like the flu, have caused a drop in the number of healthy donors and back East the severe winter weather has had a tremendous impact on donations
Severe flu season leads to hospitalisations across the UAE
In the UAE, doctors have noted a significant increase in cases of pneumonia and influenza in Abu Dhabi, and many patients have been diagnosed with swine flu. Dr Trilok Chand, a specialist in respiratory medicine at Burjeel Hospital, said the number of cases had doubled compared to last year, and he is now seeing about five people each day. He said most patients had mild cases that could be managed at home, but severe cases were on the rise. Doctors were confident they had not yet seen any cases of the potentially deadly H3N2 flu strain, but had seen an increase in the number of people infected with strains A and B. The number of H1N1 cases was high
Winter flu outbreak tracker: How bad is it where you live?
In the UK, this winter's flu outbreak is turning out to be a bad one, with the number of people coming down with symptoms on course to reach epidemic-level proportions in the coming weeks. Health service data shows flu rates have continually risen over recent weeks. The severity of the flu outbreak varies geographically with some areas, like Leicester and Luton, actually having a below normal rate of cases.
Lourdes: nine year old dies as flu epidemic continues
In France, a nine-year-old boy has died in hospital in Lourdes as the severe flu epidemic continues across the country. He is one of 70 people known to have died in the flu epidemic this winter, which has been described by health minister Agnès Buzyn as especially severe. The outbreak, which has reached the official “epidemic” threshold across the entire country, has seen 936,000 people consult their doctor for flu symptoms this winter, and has particularly affected young people, due to their “immature immune system”, Buzyn said.
Flu-related deaths hit record-high 142 as epidemic surges in San Diego County
Despite signs that flu activity may be waning, deaths continue to mount in San Diego County, according to the latest weekly snapshot from the county health department. Public health officials announced that there were 51 flu-related deaths last week, pushing the season total to 142. Most of those who have died during this influenza season have been age 65 or older, and 90 percent have had other illnesses that have contributed to their deaths.
45 deaths caused by H1N1 virus since beginning of winter in Tunisia
In Tunisia, influenza has caused the death of 45 people with H1N1 virus since the beginning of winter, a health official said. "Most cases of death concern patients over the age of 50, particularly those who are chronically ill, or who have not followed the instructions of the National Plan for the Prevention of Seasonal Influenza launched by Ministry of Health", said Insaf Ben Alaya, Director of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases.
Dreaded "Aussie flu" is "similar" to the Spanish flu
The dreaded 'Aussie flu' is similar to the killer Spanish flu which claimed the lives of 50 million people in 1918, experts claim. Pharmacist Marvin Munzu warned that H3N2 can lead to fatal complications, such as pneumonia - exactly like the bug from 100 years ago. His claim comes days after it was warned Aussie flu is already more severe than Swine flu - which killed nearly 300,000 people across the world in 2009. Projections claim that the flu will become an epidemic by the end of the month, with the UK being hit by a number of killer strains simultaneously.
New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection
North Carolina has reported 10 new flu deaths for the week from Jan. 7-Jan. 13, bringing the total number of deaths to 42 for the flu season that began Oct. 1, 2017. The CDC recommends everybody older than 6 months of age should get a flu shot every season. This year's vaccine protects patients against three or four strains, according to Dr. Sue Lynn Ledford, Wake County Public Health Director.
Rajasthan records 374 H1N1 cases, 24 deaths in 2 weeks
In India, the New Year has begun with a health alert for Rajasthan, which is facing its worst ever outbreak of H1N1 that has sickened 374 people and caused 24 deaths in a little over two weeks. Till January 9, Rajasthan had reported 195 cases and 7 deaths, but cases have almost doubled since then. Updated data from the state, likely to be added up by next week, will push up the national numbers from the current 220 cases and 10 deaths.
Flu outbreak making itself felt now
The flu season began early in Canada, and to make matters worse, it looks like the flu vaccine isn't particularly effective this year. Some tests there have shown that the vaccine wasn't protective against an influenza A strain. The authorities are being reassuring though and asking people to get vaccinated as the best means to stay healthy
Scots flu rate five times higher than same time last year
The flu rate in Scotland for the second week of 2018 was almost five times higher than the same week last year, the Scottish Government has confirmed. Around 114 people per 100,000 Scots were reported as having a flu-like illness last week, up from 107 in the previous week. When compared to the same week last year, the outbreak led to almost five times as many cases as would be expected.