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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 22nd Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
"Only way to prevent NHS being brought to its knees is to give people the right flu jab"
Some time has passed since the UK had a really bad bout of flu and there are predictions that another is on its way. There has been criticism after GPs were asked to use a cheaper flu jab which covers fewer variants of the flu virus. We need better and stronger vaccines and we have them ready for use this year. This vaccine is called Fluad and is available for GPs to order now for the 2018-19 season for people over 65.
Flu service recommissioned for 2018-19
In the UK, the national flu vaccination service will run in 2018-19, pharmacy minister Steve Brine has confirmed. The service will include a new adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine (aTIV), licensed in 2017. Answering a Parliamentary question, Mr Brine said 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 (JCVI) in relation to the aTIV’.
Pharmacies will be commissioned to provide flu vaccination next winter using trivalent adjuvanted vaccine
In England, community pharmacies will be commissioned to administer flu vaccination to older people (aged over 65 years) and other high-risk groups next winter, and will be expected to provide the trivalent adjuvanted inactivated vaccine for some patients, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed.
Pandemic Influenza News
Bird flu prevention zone extended to cover whole of England
A bird flu prevention zone has been declared across the whole of England, Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens has confirmed. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures. It comes as 13 dead wild birds were confirmed to have the virus in Warwickshire. Last week 17 wild birds tested positive in Dorset and a total of 31 infected birds have now been identified at that site.
South Korea Winter Olympics Preparing for "Bird Flu"
South Korean health authorities are on alert to contain the spread of avian influenza ahead of the PyeongChang Olympics on February 9, 2018. The South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed a new case of suspected avian influenza near Seoul on January 15, 2018. No human cases of H5N6 have been detected in South Korea. Cases of human infections from the H5N6 virus have previously been reported elsewhere, including China and Hong Kong
Saudi Arabia bans hunting of migratory birds to combat avian influenza
In Saudi Arabia, with thousands of migratory birds flocking into the Kingdom from all parts of the globe during the winter, the Saudi Wildlife Authority is enforcing its ban on the hunting of birds to help prevent avian influenza. Last week, incidences of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) were reported in Riyadh, Dammam and Al-Ahsa.
Two more poultry farms reported infected with avian flu
In Taiwan, an additional two poultry farms have been identified as infected with avian flu leading to the culling of 16,000 hens and 1,588 ducks, according to the Pingtung County government. Information provided by the county indicates that four farms have been affected by avian flu so far this year
Industry News
Mounting Tamiflu terrors: Girl, 11 saw "the portal to hell" and had to be hospitalized for three months after she was treated for the flu
In the U.S., an 11-year-old girl from became convinced that she was hearing the devil's voice with insects crawling all over her body after she took Tamiflu last year. Lindsay Ellis's father, Charles, decided to go public with her harrowing story after reports emerged that another girl tried to jump out of a window under the influence of the flu treatment. Already this year, 30 children have died of the flu in the U.S., and parents are turning to Tamiflu
Scientists Seek Universal Flu Shot 100 Years After Deadly Pandemic
Labs around the U.S. are hunting for a super flu shot that could eliminate the annual vaccination in favor of one every five years or 10 years, or maybe, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last for life. In New York, pioneering flu microbiologist Peter Palese uses “chimeric” viruses to redirect the immune system. GlaxoSmithKline and the Gates Foundation are funding initial safety tests.
Academic studies
Influenza might be spread simply by breathing, study finds
The flu virus might be spread not only by coughing and sneezing, but also simply by breathing, researchers say. They found clear evidence that influenza patients breathe the virus out through their mouths and noses in tiny particles that can stay suspended in the air for minutes or hours. Study author Dr. Donald Milton, who’s been studying flu transmission at the University of Maryland’s school of public health, said that even in a year when the flu vaccine is not extremely effective, people should still get immunized
New twist on a flu vaccine revs up the body's army of virus killers
Researchers have developed a flu vaccine that ensures influenza viruses can’t escape the body’s first line of defense, a powerful antiviral system that enlists a cadre of immune proteins and cells. “Because the virus is more visible to the host immune system,” says Ren Sun, a virologist at UCLA, “it stimulates a very strong immune response.” Mice vaccinated with the newly designed influenza virus, called hyper-interferon-sensitive (HIS) virus, survived exposure to lethal doses of several different influenza A strains. But the majority of those exposed but not vaccinated with HIS died
Two-Step Plan Boosts Flu Vax Rate for Kids with IBD
A simple two-step procedural change dramatically increased the percentage of pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease who received the flu vaccine, researchers reported. Influenza vaccine administration increased from 10% in the 2015-2016 season to 58% in the 2016-2017 flu season, according to Claire Keith, MD, of Children's of Alabama in Birmingham, and colleagues
Aussie flu warning: This is how long the epidemic could last…and it could spell bad news
Scientists in Australia have revealed how H3N2 outbreaks typically last for 15 weeks. Experts from the universities of Melbourne and Sydney combined to analyse a decade’s worth of stats about flu outbreaks ranging between 2006 and 2016. In particular, they focused on the H3N2 and H1N1 ‘Swine Flu’ sub strains of flu, as well as the Victoria and Yamagata ‘influenza B virus’. Lead author Edward Holmes says the outbreaks were “highly synchronised”, peaking at similar times each year across various cities.
Reminding people about vaccinations can increase rates of immunization
Rates of immunization against infectious diseases in children and adults are improving, but under-vaccination remains a problem that results in vaccine-preventable deaths and illnesses. Cochrane researchers found that reminder and recall systems increase the number of children and adults receiving any kind of immunization.
We're Taking The Wrong Approach To Promote The Flu Vaccine
The potential for descriptive norms to help improve the uptake of the flu vaccine convinced a group of German researchers to find out if this approach would work. They attempted to find out which of the two messaging streams — universal or high-risk — would have the greatest impact on a population. Unfortunately, the results suggest public health officials may find themselves faced with a troublesome catch-22. Moving forward, there may be a better option in light of this study. Much like most health decisions, the choice to vaccinate can be explored through meaningful and private discussions with local and trusted regulated health professionals
Pediatric influenza news
Child Death Toll Rises: 30 Children Succumb to Flu with "A lot of Flu Activity to Come"
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the latest statistics concerning the devastating flu outbreak in every state except Hawaii. So far this season 30 children have died from the flu, making this flu season one of the most severe in years. According to information collected through Saturday, January 13th, hospitalizations due to the flu continue to climb. The CDC reports 31 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, compared to 23 the week before and 11 the week before that.
8-year-old boy dies from the flu, despite getting a flu shot
An 8-year-old boy in Arkansas has died from the flu, despite getting a flu shot. KARK reported that Tyler Dannaway, of Little Rock, died earlier this week and is the first pediatric flu death in Arkansas this season.
The deadly and persistent myths of the anti-vaccination movement
In the UK, a recent study by Emma’s Diary, which works with the NHS, the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Midwives to produce a pregnancy healthcare guide for new mothers, found that as many as 44% of pregnant women were avoiding the flu and whooping cough vaccinations due to health concerns, and another 11% said they actively didn’t agree with or believe in vaccinations – despite a third-trimester flu jab being considered essential for a healthy childbirth.
Birmingham doctors stressing importance of flu shots as pediatric patients flood ICU
After two deaths attributed to the flu in Alabama, doctors say they can't stress enough the importance of flu shots. At least 30 children across the country have died from the flu. In Birmingham more than a quarter of all the beds in the intensive care unit at Children's of Alabama are filled with patients who have the flu, or are suffering from complications from the flu. Doctors are making sure everyone knows how critical it is to get your child, and yourself, vaccinated.
The 10-year-old was healthy as "an ox." Then he caught a deadly case of the flu
In the U.S., a 10-year-old hockey player from New Canaan, Conn. has died from complications from the flu. The lesson, experts say, is the flu can hit anyone at anytime — and it's important to prevent disease as well as treat it promptly and appropriately. Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the CDC's influenza division, said that in many cases, children who had severe cases of the flu had not been vaccinated against the virus
Children most vulnerable to flu epidemic, Central Florida pediatrician says
The flu epidemic is claiming lives across the U.S., but the most vulnerable victims are children. Dr. Emeline Ramos, a pediatrician at Kids Urgent Care on Fairbanks, said pediatricians are seeing an increase in young patients, warning parents to protect their children. Children younger than 6 months with the flu should have medical treatment as soon as possible, and it is not too late for older children to get vaccinated.
Over 65’s influenza news
Scotland's killer winter sees "highest elderly death rate in Europe"
Scotland is in the grip of a killer winter with the number of people dying at a 13-year high. Pensioners have been the worst hit, with the latest figures revealing Scotland’s death rate for over-65s is now the highest in western and southern Europe. Leading microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington said the rise in pensioner deaths could be related to this year’s flu vaccine.
Practices sign up to trial for universal flu vaccine
More than 800 patients from GP practices in Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the UK have joined the world’s first NHS flu trial for a universal vaccine which could have a ‘major impact’ in cutting deaths from flu worldwide. The patients from six practices signed up after the first stage of the study launched last October and more will be recruited later this year. The trial is testing if giving the new vaccine to over 65s at the same time as the existing one could be more effective.
Older hospitalized patients less likely to be tested for influenza
In the U.S., this year's flu season is shaping up to be an especially serious one, and it's important for clinicians to promptly recognize, diagnosis, and treat influenza in hospitalized patients, especially in vulnerable populations such as older individuals. A new study, however, indicates that adults aged 65 years and older who are hospitalized with fever or respiratory symptoms during influenza seasons are less likely to have a provider-ordered influenza test than younger patients.
When It Comes To Flu Vaccine, Buyer Beware. Especially if You're Older
Dr. Lisa A. Grohskopf, CDC’s liaison with the APIC, explained that there are 13 different influenza vaccines available this season of which two are licensed for use in persons aged 65 years of age and older: Fluzone and Flublock. The best data including a study carried over two seasons and enrolling about 32,000 subjects are those for Fluzone. The improved efficacy ranges from 22-45% improvement as compared to standard dose vaccines depending on which population you are looking at. The APIC will not provide a specific “preference” for this vaccine because there might be differences across different flu seasons (only two were studied); it was not compared to other high dose or newer adjuvanted vaccines; and it is not clear that the manufacturer would have been able to provide it to a larger population
Iowa flu deaths more than double in a week, mainly among the elderly
The number of confirmed flu deaths in Iowa more than doubled in the past week, as the worst flu outbreak in years continues to spread, state authorities reported. Iowa officials have confirmed 29 flu deaths so far this winter, up from 14 reported a week ago. The elderly have been hit particularly hard, with 23 of the 29 victims being older than 80
General Influenza News
CDC's flu tracking program to continue if U.S. government shuts down
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue its work tracking one of the worst flu seasons the United States has seen in several years even if the federal government shuts down on Saturday, senior administration officials said on Friday. Earlier, the Department of Health and Human Services had released a contingency plan in case the Senate failed to pass a stopgap spending measure by a midnight deadline. According to that plan, the CDC’s flu tracking program would be suspended during a shutdown. But late Friday night, officials told reporters on a conference call that the program would continue
Flu Program Would Be Suspended If U.S. Government Shuts Down
The U.S. government’s efforts to battle an especially virulent flu season could be forced to pause if lawmakers fail to reach agreement on spending legislation before an early Saturday deadline. The Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that it would furlough half of its workers and suspend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza program, among other measures, if temporary funding for the federal government expires at midnight.
Influenza is officially back in Belgium: there's still time for a flu shot
In Belgium, a flu epidemic has now been declared and people are being advised on how to avoid catching and spreading the virus, the first recommendation being to get a flu shot.
Wales to implement flu outbreak DES
The BMA in Wales has agreed a flu outbreak DES with the Welsh government in the wake of the growing number of flu cases, the chair of the Wales GP Committee announced. Dr Charlotte Jones told GPs at the Welsh LMCs Conference that negotiations on the contract for 2018/19 were ongoing, and included ’positive changes’ regarding indemnity, workload issues and ‘last man standing’ liabilities.
The flu shot may be more effective now than ever - and it won't make you sick: We answer readers' burning questions
There are about three months left of flu season, with other strains of the virus emerging, and rates of hospitalizations continue to climb. But research shows the rate of refusals is climbing - and many readers have cited fears that the flu shot is either ineffective or causes illness. The Daily Mail answers the most common questions, myths and misconceptions about this year's vaccine
Flu vaccine in high demand as illness spreads
In the U.S., the flu is so widespread, it’s now being reported in every state. The flu season keeps getting deadlier, too. 30 kids have died from flu-related illnesses so far, according to the CDC. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Big Y pharmacist Sam Baidoo said they’ve seen nearly double the amount of people coming in for the flu vaccination, in the last two weeks.
We're underfunding research on vaccines that may be able to prevent another terrible flu season
Several different approaches to a universal flu vaccine are being pursued, and the preliminary research is promising. Nevertheless, there is surprisingly meager federal research funding in this area. We also need more research on adjuvants. There is a flu vaccine for people over 65 that contains four times as much antigen as regular flu shots, and one that contains an adjuvant, but they have improved the shot’s effectiveness only slightly. An increase in research funding on adjuvants, more effective dosing regimens and better production methods are simple changes that would better prepare us to face flu outbreaks.
Preparing for the Next Influenza Pandemic
The best defense against the ongoing burden of seasonal epidemics and the threat of the next pandemic, we need to solve two problems: a science problem and a capacity problem. The science problem is to create better influenza vaccines. However, as the work to develop better vaccines progresses, it is essential that countries develop the programs to deliver and administer the vaccines. This is the “capacity” problem, and it may be even more urgent. Even the best vaccines require national systems to guarantee their timely delivery and use once they are created.
The $9 billion reason you should never show up to work sick
The flu is widespread in 49 US states right now, and CDC officials say the 2018 flu season "is proving particularly difficult." The 2017 flu shot isn't working very well against one of the most common strains of the virus. What's more, global outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that the flu could cost employers more than $9.4 billion in lost productivity.
Flu's terrible this season. But many of us aren't staying home like we should
In the U.S., 39 percent of people go to work when ill, according to a survey from urgent care provider CityMD. The CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after fever subsides, without the help of fever-reducing medication. In addition to staying home, public health officials also universally recommend getting the flu vaccine.
New Influenza Virus was Detected in Bulgaria
A new influenza virus was detected in Bulgaria. The National Reference Laboratory at the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases has demonstrated in four samples from the Sliven region a new strain of group B virus - "Victoria". Of the 300 samples tested, there were 100 positive results, indicating an epidemic spread. 84% are from group B, which is surprising - most of them are from the Yamagata strain. The 12 strains are group "A".
How to tell this year's flu hysteria is all hype
Michael Fumento, a journalist, author and attorney who has been writing on infectious-disease panics for over 30 years, criticises the media reports on the flu outbreak in the U.S. this year, saying they made the epidemic sound far more dramatic than it is. He does write that "the low immunization rate of this year’s vaccine does shed important light on the antiquated system of trying to guess the most viral strains of next season’s epidemic to know which three or four to painstakingly grow, usually in eggs. What’s needed is a universal vaccine that protects against a part of all flu viruses that never mutate"
Flu Vaccine Supplies Running Low
According to the Department of Health, so far this season the state of Pennsylvania has reported more than 17,000 cases of the flu, with a large increase in reported cases just in the past few weeks. The increase in flu cases has caused some pharmacies, like The Medicine Shoppe in Scranton, to run out of the vaccine and of Tamiflu
The bad flu season has revealed a dangerous problem with our medical supply chain
In the U.S., making the threat of a difficult flu season worse is how most of the IV saline bags used in common medical treatments and procedures — including severe cases of the flu — are made in Puerto Rico, which is still reeling from Hurricane Maria. Hospitals in some areas that are operating at or above capacity because of the flu are quickly running low on saline, resorting to time-consuming and potentially dangerous treatments of patients. Federal, state and local governments have to alter procedures, but private companies involved in the production and delivery of critical goods have to plan ahead for emergencies.
Vaccination during the election campaign - 10 points that need clarification if we are to avoid them being exploited politically
In the election campaign these vaccination related issues need proper defining so voters can take decisions on which way to vote based on logic rather than passion and prejudice. The intelligent decisions behind a pro-vax need to be made on a logical foundation and not via party or personal position. There writer outlines these 10 key points and explains why they matter to the Italian voter
Burden of disease
Flu reaches epidemic levels in parts of UK as Japanese strain dominates
Flu has reached epidemic levels in some parts of the UK with the “Japanese” strain now dominant after the NHS failed to vaccinate against it, official figures show. Latest data shows that cases of flu have risen by 150 per cent in two weeks, fuelling a “significant excess” of elderly deaths. Senior doctors have accused health officials of fuelling the crisis, by attempting to cut costs on vaccines. It follows concern that the vaccinations are failing to sufficiently protect the elderly against the “Aussie flu” strain, with a new type of jab planned for next year.
Flu hospitalizations climb as US season hits new heights
Flu hospitalizations across the U.S. are still increasing, and at least by one metric the season has reached a height not seen since the 2009-10 pandemic, according to the latest data from the CDC's FluView. In addition, despite elderly adults being the most hospitalized group, they often do not receive influenza tests, new research shows. Influenza A still far outnumbers influenza B strains, the CDC said
Preparing for seasonal influenza
During the current northern hemisphere's winter, seasonal influenza activity has become worrisome. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza activity is affecting the entire continental USA for the first time in 13 years and this year's season might well be severe. In the UK, in the first week of 2018, GP consultation rates for influenza rose 78%, and influenza-confirmed hospitalisations increased by 50% from the previous week, according to Public Health England.
Influenza claims 35 lives in south Punjab in the past one month
In Pakistan, a Multan Health Department spokesman stated that thirty-five people died of seasonal influenza in the past one month in south Punjab cities. A team of specialist doctors arrived in Multan in the first week of January for the treatment of influenza. The team has been deployed at Nishtar Hospital while a massive influenza vaccination drive has been launched in Multan region to control the epidemic.
15 more Albertans die from influenza within one week, reports AHS
In Canada, in the past week, 15 more Albertans have died from influenza, according to the most recent report from Alberta Health Services. The weekly report states 46 people across the province have died from the virus since the season started in October. The province has administered more than 1.1 million doses of influenza vaccine since October.
Italy is in the grip of its worst flu season in 14 years
Nearly 4 million people in Italy sought treatment for the flu in recent weeks, the highest number of cases since 2004. There were some 832,000 flu patients between January 8-14th, according to the National Health Institute’s virus monitoring service, making a total of 3,883,000 cases since September 2017. “The spread of the influenza virus this year is very intense, higher even than the pandemic of 2009-10 and comparable only to the 2004-5 season,” said Antonino Bella, one of the institute’s specialists in infectious disease
Death toll jumps sharply after California experiences its worst week of the flu season
The death toll from influenza in California rose sharply on Friday, amid a brutal flu season that has spread across the nation. State health officials said that 32 people under 65 died last week of the flu, making it the deadliest week this season so far. In total, 74 people under age 65 have died of the flu since October, compared with 14 at the same time last year.