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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 24th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Seqirus boosting output and focusing on just a few vaccines: CSL CEO
During the two-plus years of Seqirus' existence, the new company has worked to both hone its portfolio and boost output of next-gen cell culture flu vaccines, CSL CEO Paul Perreault said. The company is honing its efforts on just a few products such as the Flucelvax cell culture shot and its adjuvanted option called Fluad, Perreault said. So far, the company is alone in producing next-gen cell culture flu vaccines on a commercial scale at a time when efficacy for egg-based flu vaccines has come into question.
Severe flu season has senators evaluating ways to cope with pandemics
Witness and Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Seqirus, Co-Chair, Alliance for Biosecurity Brent MacGregor said pandemic influenza is one of the most urgent public health threats we face as a nation. "Authorized funding for pandemic influenza has never been included in legislation. As a result, funding for critical BARTA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority) activities such as vaccine stockpiling, advanced research and development has been largely episodic since 2009," MacGregor said. MacGregor suggested an annual authorization level of at least $535 million to support HHS' influenza pandemic activities.
More Data Needed in Health Emergencies, Lawmakers Told
In the U.S., the federal government needs to help public health agencies better pull together data from various sources during a public health emergency, witnesses said at a Senate committee hearing. They kept returning to the issue of underfunding. Brent MacGregor, senior VP of commercial operations for Seqirus, noted that the "vaccine stockpile as it exists today is a result of underfunding that has occurred particularly since 2009 ... The funding from 2005 to 2009 allowed for building up of a stockpile for various pandemic strains ... but since then the funding has really dropped off." "Our ability to replenish the stockpile, whether with antigen or adjuvant, has been diminished by the lack of sustainable funding. We are in fact working with BARDA [the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority] to develop [a vaccine for] H7N9, but we need sustainable funding going forward to enhance our readiness."
Pandemic Influenza News
Chicken sample from Hong Kong vendor positive for bird flu virus, as officials urge calm after its sale
A chilled chicken sample from mainland China found to contain a bird flu virus was confirmed on Tuesday to have been sold by a Hong Kong vendor, but officials stressed the contamination was unlikely to sicken consumers. A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced that the H5 virus was detected in a sample obtained from a batch of chilled chicken
Bird flu: Human cases of the avian influenza prompts travel warning ahead of Chinese New Year
Human cases of the avian influenza virus known as "bird flu" have prompted a UK travel warning to anybody going to China. Travellers are reminded of the risks of contracting the virus during their visits and advised to take extra care in order to protect themselves. The majority of reported human cases in China, have had close contact with birds and have originated from several provinces and municipalities across mainland China and Taiwan.
Afghanistan reports two bird flu outbreaks - OIE
Afghanistan has reported two outbreaks of a highly contagious bird flu virus, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Tuesday. The H5 virus was detected in a backyard in Kabul where it killed 6 birds and in the Bagrami village nearby, where it killed 15
Bird flu crackdown as Yorkshire council urges public to report sightings
In the UK, Leeds residents are being urged to report any sightings of dead wild birds as part of national attempts to control the spread of bird flu. In the latest outbreak of the virus, bird flu was confirmed in 13 dead wild birds in Warwickshire last week, while 31 wild birds were identified as carrying the disease in Dorset. The Government has reacted by declaring a bird flu prevention zone across the whole of England.
Risk status for commercial poultry raised to medium following new bird flu outbreak
In England, the government has raised its avian influenza risk status for commercial poultry from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ following a new bird flu outbreak in wild birds. In Hertfordshire, it has been confirmed an assemblage of dead wild birds was found and tested positive for the H5N6 strain. It is the same strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months.
One more bird flu infection recorded in Iraq's Diyala: official
In Iraq, a new bird flu infection focus was discovered in Iraq’a Diyala, an official was quoted saying on Tuesday as the disease forced farmers to kill birds in thousands. Last Tuesday, NRT quoted a medical source in Mosul saying that al-Salam Educational Hospital in the eastern region recorded three deaths with the disease, while the fourth case was recorded at al-Shifa Hospital in the western region of the city.
Southern Research Programs Aim to Shield Against Pandemic Flu Dangers
In the UK, Southern Research conducts tests on emerging pandemic strains and participates in strategic government vaccine programs focusing on highly pathogenic avian influenza strains that pose potentially grave public health risks. In addition, Southern Research has performed toxicology studies for flu vaccine platforms and provided pre-clinical studies on vaccine candidates, along with clinical trial support for vaccine makers. The non-profit organization has also researched antiviral treatment approaches that could protect people after infection.
H5N6 strikes again in UK birds; H5 detected in Afghan poultry - CIDRAP
The UK has reported its third highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu outbreak in wild birds, this time in Hertfordshire in the southeast, as agriculture officials there upgraded the risk of the virus spreading to other parts of the country. Afghanistan's agriculture ministry reported two highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza outbreaks, both in Kabul province, according to a notification from the OIE.
Industry News
Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ synthetic flu vaccine could be an all-in-one solution
Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced that its synthetic flu vaccine, which uses synthetic DNA antigens, has generated “broad protective antibody responses” against all major deadly strains of H1 influenza viruses from the last 100 years -- including the virus that caused Spanish Flu in 1918 and killed 500 million people worldwide. It also proved effective in multiple animal tests including mice, guinea pigs and non-human primates, the company said
Doctors' offices, pharmacies begin to receive back-ordered Tamiflu shipments
In the U.S., a nationwide backorder of the antiviral flu medication Tamiflu concerned both patients and doctors, but there is some good news from health officials. Doctors and pharmacies were told not to expect shipments of the medication until the end of January, but days early, some pharmacies and hospitals have restocked their shelves.
Local pharmacies stocking up on Tamiflu as flu reason reaches peak
Pharmacies across the Carolinas are stocking up on flu medication as the season reaches its peak. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, at least 42 people have died from complications related to the flu in the Tar Heel State since October 1, 2017.
Can Flu Medicine Affect Ovulation? Here's What You Need To Know
There is currently a dearth of any published studies that examine the effects of drugs like Tamiflu on TTC or the menstrual cycle. However, based on years of longitudinal research and historical data, it can be inferred that the prolonged illness that these antivirals seek to combat is a greater threat to a woman's fertility than the drugs themselves, according to a 2012 Danish Study that examined years of pandemic flu and the birth and fecundity rates of populations impacted by the flu. The current CDC recommendation for women who are pregnant or TTC is that they receive antiviral medication as soon as possible to begin treatment for the potentially deadly flu virus.
Quebec: plant-based vaccine could tame the flu virus
Quebec company Medicago already produces vaccines, including a quadrivalent flu vaccine. Now, it is testing on 10,000 people around the world a plant-based flu vaccine it hopes will prove more effective than existing products, and could be on the shelves by 2020. The plants produce more doses of vaccine than eggs do, and do it faster.
Academic studies
Flu Infection Study Increases Understanding of Natural Immunity
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according to a new study published in mBio. The findings could have implications for flu vaccine development, according to the authors.
Simply Exhaling May Spread Flu
Researchers have long suspected that the flu virus could be airborne, but did not have enough data to say for sure. So researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health decided to investigate. Results suggested coughing may not be the only way to spread the flu. Just exhaling may release some amount of the virus into the environment.
Influenza Exposure May Lead to Heightened Risk in Future Pandemics
Throughout the past century there have been at least 5 pandemics related to the influenza A virus and a new data analysis by the American Society for Microbiology, suggests that individuals born at the time of a pandemic are more susceptible to death in future pandemics. This new finding is contrary to the widely accepted idea that exposure to influenza A viruses typically creates a defense against strains of influenza. The findings of this study suggest that a solution would be a vaccine that protects against multiple strains of influenza.
Low interim influenza vaccine effectiveness, Australia, 1 May to 24 September
Interim analysis suggests moderate VE against influenza A(H1)pdm09 and influenza B. However, VE was low against influenza A(H3). The antigenic data reflect ongoing issues with A(H3) candidate vaccine viruses which, when propagated in eggs, rapidly acquire adaptive changes in the haemagglutinin which alter antigenicity. Cell-based vaccines, which are less affected by this, are only licensed in the United States, were not available in Australia in 2017 and will also not be available for the upcoming European season.
Pediatric influenza news
CDC director urges influenza vaccinations as pediatric deaths mount
In the U.S., amid one of the most severe influenza seasons in years, CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, is calling on people to get vaccinated against the disease. Already this season, 30 U.S. children have died, and about 85% had not been vaccinated against influenza. "My message is, if you haven't gotten a vaccine, please get a vaccine. Also, please get your children vaccinated," said Fitzgerald, who is urging Americans "to take every advantage that you can to protect yourself."
Free flu vaccinations announced for children under five after horror season killed more than 700 sufferers including two preschoolers
In Australia, free influenza immunisations will be available for New South Wales children aged between six months and five years old in the wake of a horror flu season for the state. Two preschoolers were killed and there were more than 12,000 confirmed cases of influenza among children under five in 2017. The state government announced Tuesday it would invest $3.5 million in 2018 in an effort to avoid a similarly devastating flu season
Vaccination during pregnancy protects both the mother and unborn child
U.S. national agencies and groups, such as the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommend that all pregnant women receive the inactivated influenza vaccine. Women who are infected with flu are at higher risk for pregnancy complications, like needing to be in the hospital, respiratory complications and premature birth.
At Least 30 Children Have Died From This Season's Flu. Some of Them Were Perfectly Healthy
In the U.S., thirty children have died from confirmed influenza-related causes so far this flu season, according to the CDC. The most important thing parents can do to protect their children, says Dr. Roberta DeBiasi, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., is to make sure they get vaccinated every flu season. “It’s not perfect and it’s not 100% effective, but it’s the best thing we have,” she says, “and the flu vaccine is one of the safest, most vetted and most studied vaccinations there is.”
6-year-old West Virginia child dies from flu
A 6-year-old child has died in West Virginia because of the flu. The Ohio County Department of Health received a report from a Wheeling hospital of a pediatric flu death. It's the first pediatric flu death in West Virginia since the 2014-15 flu season
Over 65’s influenza news
Contagion Speaks with National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Medical Director on Influenza
NFID’s medical director William Schaffner, MD, highlighted the importance of flu vaccines for adults 65 and older, saying, “You know, people aged 65 and older have a diminished immune system. It doesn’t work as well. It’s not as responsive as the immune system in younger people, and so, they are disproportionately made ill. They get more serious illness when they’re infected with influenza.” As older adults are at a higher risk for developing complications associated with flu, Schaffner stressed that it is the job of health care providers to be assertive when recommending that patients, especially those in this older population, get vaccinated.
General Influenza News
Poll: Older Americans would like more health services at local pharmacy
A new survey by PrescribeWellness finds that U.S. residents aged 40 years and older see their local pharmacy as a destination for preventive care and other health services. When asked which services their pharmacy could add to make health care more convenient, 29% of older adults cited access to all vaccines. Of those who have been vaccinated at a local pharmacy, 58% said it is more convenient than visiting their doctor and 46% said it is quicker. Meanwhile, 68% of older adults said having influenza or strep testing at their local pharmacy would be easier than visiting their doctor.
VIDEO: Are Bay Area pharmacies selling out of the flu vaccine?
In the U.S., a spokesperson for the CVS chain says they are experiencing an increased demand for flu vaccines, so there may be some instances where individual pharmacies are temporarily out of stock, but they are continuing to supply their stores with the vaccine. The state department of public health says California has an adequate supply of the flu vaccine, and if someone runs into a spot outage, they can check in with their local county health department for a referral or check out vaccinefinder.org.
Macau - City entering influenza season
The Macau SAR is entering the winter influenza season, with the number of patients visiting doctors due to influenza-like illness having increased, the Director of the Health Bureau said. Some 103,500 of 120,000 purchased influenza vaccines have already been disbursed to local residents, he said, adding that the number of people vaccinated in the city has increased compared to the same period of the previous year, and that the number of vaccines acquired by the Bureau would be enough to meet demand.
114 KUMACA additional students vaccinated against Swine flu
In Ghana, health officials in the Ashanti Region have now vaccinated 114 additional students of the Kumasi Academy against the H1N1 Influenza type A. The number was part of the 174 students who could not take part in the vaccination exercise in December 2017, when the general vaccination was done following a detection of the virus.
New flu strain could be on its way to New Mexico
With the flu season ending in just a few weeks, doctors in New Mexico say the end may just be the beginning. While one strain of the flu virus might be slowing down, doctors say another one could be on its way and it’s only a matter of time until it hits New Mexico. People are advised to get vaccinated as it's not too late
Flu Forecasters Predict This Year’s Season to Peak Early
Thanks to years of highly accurate flu forecasts, modelers have been able to tip off health advisors this year to an early peak in flu cases in the U.S. that may already be tapering off. “Our early forecasts [in the fall] weren’t giving us much information on the timing or intensity of this season—they were just matching historic trends,” says epidemiologist and modeler Matthew Biggerstaff of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. “But by the middle of December, we had good signals for an early season and can safely say now that we’ve confirmed this season started early and peaked early.”
Flu warning: Future pandemic could kill millions as virus mutates
The NHS has been struggling to cope with the added burden posed by this winter’s Australian flu outbreak, and other countries, including the United States, France and China are facing similar problems as a WHO spokesman said worse could be around the corner. He said: "Nothing about influenza is predictable, including where the next pandemic might emerge, and which virus might be responsible. The world was fortunate that the 2009 pandemic was relatively mild, but such good fortune is no precedent. "Advance planning and preparedness is key to mitigating the adverse outcomes of future pandemics. This includes building capacity to detect and respond to a public health emergency of international concern.”
Flu shots mostly not mandatory
Young children and older people are particularly vulnerable to life-threatening complications if they get the flu. But the people who care for them in day care centers and nursing homes are not required to be immunized, in most cases. Illinois doesn't require anyone to get flu shots, even in years like this when flu is widespread. The state mandates health care employers offer influenza vaccinations to employees and keep track of who gets them. Many suburban hospitals report they require employees to get flu shots.
To thwart flu pandemics, we need to decode the human immune system
Public health experts have traditionally fought skirmishes against influenza. The time has come to mount an all-out assault on it by decoding the human immune system. Deciphering the human immunome, the universal and common elements of the B and T cell receptors that make up the adaptive immune system, will facilitate germline targeting and structure-assisted vaccine discovery. Understanding the mechanisms for protective immunity will enable rational vaccine design aimed at specifically inducing such immune effector mechanisms.
Flu in Wales: Protect Yourself from Influenza this Winter
Influenza is now circulating across Wales, and the number of cases is increasing. The flu vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself against catching flu and vaccines are still available. Public Health Wales is reminding anyone from the age of six months with a long term health condition, or pregnant, or aged 65 or over, to get protected against flu with a free NHS vaccination if they haven’t had one yet this winter.
Burden of disease
Texas: Flu-related deaths double in two weeks
In the most active season in recent years, the number of Texans dying from a flu-related cause has now doubled. The Texas Department of Health this season is reporting the deaths of 2,355 people for whom the flu was an underlying or contributing cause, up from 1,155 such deaths two weeks ago. The vast majority of such deaths occurred among the elderly, according to the department.
Deadly Flu Season Claiming 100 Lives Per Week, CDC Warns
After a devastating flu season in Australia set off warning bells in the U.S. back in November, the CDC now says that America’s flu season is already responsible for hundreds of deaths around the country. “This is a season that has a lot more steam than we thought,” the CDC’s Dr. Dan Jernigan said, via CBS News. The U.S. CDC recently estimated that 759 people died of flu-related illnesses between Oct. 7 and Dec. 23. Last year, only 322 people died during the same period due to the flu.
Nearly one person a day is currently dying of flu in Swansea Bay
In Wales, nearly one person a day is dying in the Swansea Bay area because of flu. Figures out today show the regional death toll from the flu crisis has hit 12 in just the last fortnight, and people are being advised to get vaccinated
Flu season peaks again, nearly doubles death count
Washington's flu has spiked dramatically over the last week – but, it's too early to tell exactly what this means for flu season. While at least 46 Washingtonians died from the flu in the past week, the Washington Department of Health has announced that flu season death count has nearly doubled to 86. Though some have reported that the flu vaccine this year isn't well matched to the virus, analysts are expecting the CDC's report at the end of January will show similar success to last year, probably 30 to 60 percent effective depending on the strain.
Gloucestershire hits peak flu as entire county enters red zone
In the UK, flu levels have continued to rise in Gloucestershire, with the entire county now marked out as among the worst areas in the UK for the rates of people suffering. The interactive map produced by flusurvey.org shows the region as now bright red - the highest rating. It has steadily got worse over the past fortnight as winter flu strikes across the country. However the latest bulletin from Public Health England suggests things should start getting better soon.
Blood shortage hits "critical" level as flu and ice disrupt donations, Red Cross says
In the U.S., a combination of punishing winter weather and virulent flu season has resulted in a ‘critical’ shortage of donated blood, the Red Cross said Tuesday morning. “The flu has contributed to low turnout at some of our blood drives,” Kristen Stancil said. “You have to be healthy to donate blood, so the flu, as well as just things like colds, are keeping people away.”
Influenza death toll in South Punjab climbs to 38
In Pakistan, the overall death toll due to seasonal influenza virus in South Punjab has increased to 38 after three people died in Multan’s Nishtar Hospital on Monday. 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.
Ecuador: H1N1 virus kills 22 people
In Ecuador, since mid-December, the H1N1 virus has killed 22 people. The authorities are going to distribute 3.9 million doses of the flu vaccine to try and stop the epidemic
Number of influenza cases in Taiwan increases 27 percent last week
In Taiwan, the number of people seeking medical treatment for flu-like symptoms rose last week to nearly 130,000, a 27 percent increase from the previous week, the CDC said Tuesday. A total of 129,593 people sought treatment for flu-like ailments in the week ending Jan. 20. In addition, during the last four weeks there have been 57 cluster infections, 44 of which were in schools. There are currently about 60,000 doses of free flu vaccine shots still available, and people are urged to get vaccinated
Yes, this flu season is brutal, but it's not the worst
In the U.S., a fierce flu season that started early still seems to be hitting almost every corner of the country and sowing anxiety nationwide. The epidemic is far from over and may be among the worst in several years, health officials say. But the latest update from the CDC does not indicate a flu epidemic of historic or rare proportions — just one that could approach the severity of the last moderately severe flu season, in 2014-2015.
WHO: Many nations report brisk flu activity, with influenza B rising
Most countries with flu seasons under way are reporting moderate levels compared with past seasons, with some reporting hospitalization and intensive care unit admission levels at or above earlier seasons, the WHO said. In its activity update, the WHO said though flu vaccines might not provide full protection, "they remain the best line of prevention and should be offered as long as influenza is circulating."
Montana influenza update
The number of flu-related deaths in Montana continues to rise. According to the weekly flu report from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, there have been 18 deaths in Montana attributed to influenza this season. All but two have been adults over the age of 65.
Influenza Wallops Flathead County with More Than 300 Cases
“So far for the 2017-2018 influenza season, Flathead County has had more than 300 cases of influenza, more than 40 people hospitalized due to influenza, and five influenza-related deaths. We are about two weeks ahead of where we were last year at this time,” said Flathead City-County Health Department Health Officer Hillary Hanson. Flathead County had the most cases of reported influenza in the state, with 332, according to DPHHS. The Flathead also had the most cases of newly confirmed flu from Jan. 7 to Jan. 13, with 89.
Hundreds of San Antonians tested positive for flu-like illness, officials say
More than 300 San Antonians tested positive for flu-like illness as of earlier this month and one pediatric flu death has been recorded, Metro Health officials said. "We are seeing quite a bit of flu activity," said Rita Espinoza, Metro Health's Chief of Epidemiology. Flu season runs from October to May in the San Antonio-area and health officials are seeing a peak in the number of reported cases this month, Espinoza said. She said the city appears to be peaking quicker than last year, but that the number of cases lines up with what health officials are recording nationally.