"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 1st Feb 2018

Seqirus mentions
GPs told to freeze all flu vaccine orders until further notice
GPs have been instructed by NHS England to halt all orders on flu vaccines until February, until all clinical evidence and cost-effectiveness data are re-evaluated. The letter states that ‘no further orders for influenza vaccine should be made and no provisional orders should be converted to confirmed’ until they have released definitive guidance, expected on 5 February. This news follows an earlier letter from NHS England in December 2017 advising GP practices to order two different variations, including Fluad, which they said should be given to over-75s in the 2018/19 flu season.
Pandemic Influenza News
The Pandemic Everyone Fears Is Flu In the Wrong Place At the Wrong Time
If humanity is lucky, the next flu virus with pandemic potential will unfold somewhere quick to catch and contain the threat—a country with a strong public health service and well-stocked hospitals. If we’re unlucky, a novel, lethal and highly infectious flu virus will break out in a crowded, unprepared megacity that lacks public health infrastructure. A fast-moving virus could burst from a city and catch a ride with international travelers before public health officials realize what is happening.
Industry News
NHS should consider expanding quadrivalent flu jab after fourth strain hits Europe
The NHS and other European healthcare providers should start administering quadrivalent vaccines to better protect against the influenza virus according to GlobalData. In the UK, the NHS recommends that adults receive the trivalent flu vaccine, but data suggests that the fourth strain – sometimes known as ‘Japanese flu’ – is now the most prevalent in Europe. The quadrivalent influenza vaccines that are currently available in the UK are GlaxoSmithKline’s Fluarix Tetra, and Sanofi Pasteur’s quadrivalent influenza vaccine
Family believes Tamiflu led to 16-year-old boy's suicide
An Indiana teen took his own life just days after being diagnosed with the flu and his family believes the medicine Tamiflu had something to do with it. The 16-year-old was diagnosed with the flu last week and was quickly prescribed Tamiflu. Less than 24 hours later, he had killed himself
Flu vaccine updated after record deaths in northern winter
The Ministry of Health has announced the funded influenza vaccines for the New Zealand 2018 flu season. The INFLUVAC TETRA vaccine, for adults and children aged three years or older, will be available in early to mid-March 2018, while the FLUARIX TETRA for children aged six to 35 months is likely to be available in mid-April 2018.
EU proposes joint studies to speed acceptance of new medicine
The European Commission has proposed joint clinical assessments to determine whether approved new drugs and medical devices offer value for money and should be prescribed for patients within national healthcare systems. The joint action, set to take more than three years to enter into force, would replace a largely national approach to health technology assessment that duplicates work, limits transparency and impedes market access for innovation.
Local pharmacies feeling impact of national Tamiflu shortage
With the Iowa Department of Public Health saying the flu has not yet reached its peak, popular influenza medication Tamiflu is in high demand nationwide. Tamiflu is a prescribed drug that helps cut down the symptoms of influenza, but several local pharmacies are running low.
Tamiflu causes hallucinations for some but doctors still urge its use
A handful of kids from across the U.S. say they've experienced dangerous hallucinations from Tamiflu. One 6-year-old in Texas reportedly tried jumping out of window after her parents say she was taking Tamiflu. Doctors say hallucinations are indeed a side effect of Tamiflu. But the chance of your child suffering from them is slim. Doctors say less than one percent of kids who take the drug may suffer from negative side effects.
NCPA Survey: Tamiflu Underpayments Cited by 88% of Independent Pharmacists
In a Jan. 22-24, 2018 National Community Pharmacists Association survey of independent pharmacy owners, 88 percent of respondents said that in the past 60 days they have experienced multiple incidences of reimbursements for Tamiflu or oseltamivir at rates below the pharmacy's acquisition cost for the medication. "Many PBM contracts require pharmacists to dispense to a patient a medication they have in stock, regardless of whether it is at a loss," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA. "As a result, many community pharmacies are having to eat the loss in order to see that their patients are cared for during one of the worst flu seasons in years. Some respondents are citing losses in excess of $60, even $70 per prescription.
Hemispherx's Ampligen Highlighted in Review of Role of TLR3 Agonist Support for “Universal” Flu Immunization
David R. Strayer, MD, chief scientific and medical officer of Hemispherx, said that, “proven technology exists to create and make vaccines to protect against the specific strain of flu virus predicted to be the most prevalent for the coming season. However, the source of seasonal vaccine ineffectiveness rests in the lengthy manufacturing lead time and the potential of the selected strain to mutate, rendering the vaccine less effective or not effective at all. The quest is for a ‘universal’ vaccine that can protect against all major known classes of the virus, a goal which may be achieved only by introducing, through an agent like Ampligen, elements of cross reactivity and cross protection. After decades of research to develop a safe and effective universal flu vaccine, the goal is still unfulfilled. Ampligen may with additional testing be a relatively quick way to provide a safe and effective approach against the debilitating, costly and frequently lethal influenza viruses.”
Academic studies
Airborne influenza transmission possible through exhalation
Airborne influenza infections may be transferred by breathing, without the need for sneezing and coughing, according to a study published in the PNAS. Jin Yan, PhD, from the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland and associates, conducted a series of tests to determine if virulent influenza could be transmitted through normal or forced exhalation, such as normal breathing, speaking, coughing, and sneezing
TB Risk Reduced by 18% From The Flu Shot
The influenza vaccination may offer a secondary, important benefit for seniors. A new observational study from Taiwan reported that flu shots also protect people against tuberculosis. This long-term, cohort research found the risk for incident tuberculosis was 18 percent lower among seniors who were vaccinated against influenza. The lower risk of incident TB among vaccinated elderly patients is likely related to activation of T-cell–mediated immunity, reported the CDC
Ubiquitination of the Cytoplasmic Domain of Influenza A Virus M2 Protein Is Crucial for Production of Infectious Virus Particles
Virus replication is mediated by interactions between the virus and host. A new study demonstrates that influenza A virus membrane protein 2 (M2) can be ubiquitinated. The results suggest that M2 ubiquitination plays an important role in infectious virus production by coordinating the efficient packaging of the viral genome into virus particles and the timing of virus-induced cell death.
Syrian Hamster as an Animal Model for the Study of Human Influenza Virus Infection
A new study investigated the susceptibility of Syrian hamsters to influenza viruses with a view to using the hamster model as an alternative to the mouse model. Researchers found that hamsters are sensitive to influenza viruses, including the recent H3N2 viruses, without adaptation. Although the hamsters did not show weight loss or clinical signs of H3N2 virus infection, researchers observed pathogenic effects in the respiratory tracts of the infected animals.
ID'ing Features of Flu Virus Genome May Help Target Surveillance for Pandemic Flu
Flu pandemics are exceedingly difficult to predict, but new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis offers details about flu viruses that could help improve surveillance to detect a potential pandemic. “We think that two strains need to have similar features in their genome to re-assort and make a new virus,” said senior author Jacco Boon, PhD. “We hope that in the future, this work will allow us to focus on certain strains of influenza virus and target our surveillance more narrowly so we have a better chance of identifying the next pandemic flu before it spreads.”
Pediatric influenza news
Should the Flu Vaccine be Required for School?
In the U.S., even if the flu shot is easy to get and free, some people still will not get it, for a variety of reasons. Since, public schools already require vaccinations for MMR, polio, etc. in order to allow a student to come to school - why not add influenza to the list? More children will die of the flu this year in the United States than of polio and measles combined (zero). So, does it make sense to have some vaccines mandatory for school entry and leave the flu up to the parents' discretion?
Widespread flu causes shortage of children's flu medicine
South Carolina has had six weeks of widespread influenza across the state as of last week, and medical suppliers are starting to feel the brunt of the demand. Pharmacies in the Southeast have been experiencing shortages in flu medicine for children from wholesale suppliers because of increased demands. Tamiflu costs about $150 and most insurance companies don’t cover it, but Medicaid has announced it will cover the brand because of widespread shortages.
Tamiflu's Side Effects on Children
Many doctors say side effects from Tamiflu are extremely rare. Margaret Oates, Pediatric Pharmacist at the Children's Hospital of Georgia says she personally has never seen a child with the side effects. Dr. Gene Fisher is the Chief of Pediatric Critical Care at the hospital. He says fighting the flu with Tamiflu gives your child the best chance to get rid of it quicker.
Can Tamiflu Cause Children to Become Homicidal?
Psychiatric problems are possibly associated with the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu, but causation and association are difficult to tease apart. Linking this broad range of psychiatric outcomes causally to Tamiflu, though, is problematic for scientists researching the drug’s safety. That’s because because influenza can cause similar effects on its own, and because Tamiflu is rarely the only drug a flu sufferer takes throughout the course of their illness.
Almost half of primary school children had been vaccinated against flu at end of November
Almost half of primary school children had been vaccinated against seasonal flu by the end of November, provisional figures from Public Health England show. The 2017–2018 seasonal flu vaccination campaign for children began on 1 September 2017 and by 30 November, 49.8% of children in reception (aged 4–5 years), 48.8% in children school year one (aged 5–6 years) and 48.1% in children school year two (aged 6–7 years) had received the vaccine. Uptake rates were slightly lower in older age groups of primary school children with 45.6% of children in year three (aged 7–8 years) and 44.2% in year four (aged 8–9 years) having received the vaccine.
Over 65’s influenza news
Flu After 65: Your Doctor May Miss It
Older adults always get hit hard with flu, with up to 85% of flu deaths usually happening in those age 65 and older, the CDC says. Yet doctors are less likely to order a flu test for adults in that age group, and they could miss diagnosing the flu, new research finds. Flu symptoms in older adults can differ from those of younger people, says Keipp Talbot, MD, associate professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She is the senior author of the new study, published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. "Not everyone who has flu has a fever, especially those over age 65," she says.
General Influenza News
Got the flu? Stay home! Get better. It's costing us billions
In the U.S., the flu has taken a toll on schools, nursing homes and health-care facilities. But, it also is costing businesses billions of dollars. This year, as an aggressive flu strain, H3N2, goes around and with the flu season yet to peak, employers — and employees — are facing a difficult dilemma: What do you do when folks just don't feel well? Employees who work when they are sick only exacerbate the problem. Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates the flu virus will cause a million adults to miss at least four, eight-hour shifts this year. At an average hourly wage of $26.63, the firm said that works out to about $9.4 billion in lost productivity nationwide.
Anti-vax site spreads vile viral story claiming flu shots "caused this year's deadly outbreak"
An anti-vaccine conspiracy site has spread a highly dangerous fake news story claiming that the flu vaccine actually caused this year’s deadly epidemic. The fake story, from YourNewsWire, has become one of the most-engaged stories on Facebook of the last two weeks. The completely false story quotes a non-existent doctor who says, ‘We have seen people dying across the country of the flu, and one thing nearly all of them have in common is they got the flu shot.
Amid Tamiflu shortage, Florida Hospital offers free flu shots in Tampa
Florida Hospital Centra Care is offering free flu shots in hopes more people will be vaccinated. With the flu at epidemic levels this season and a shortage of antiviral medications used to treat the flu, the hospital encourages those who are able to have the vaccine to get one. Centra Care doctors are also working to dispel myths that this year's vaccine is not effective. They say the shot they administer is quadrivalent, meaning it protects against four different strains of flu.
Connection between Super Bowl and flu deaths
The Super Bowl may make the flu season even worse for North Carolina. Researchers at Cornell University have studied the correlation between the flu and the big game, and they’ve found a traceable connection. “We find about an 18% increase in mortality for those 65 and older in cities that are sending to the super bowl,” Assistant Professor Nicholas Sanders said.
PSNC urges NHS England to digitise flu vaccination payments
The PSNC has said it is trying to persuade NHS England to digitise flu vaccination payments to contractors amid concerns that the claiming process is time-consuming and could result in non-payment. Some contractors submitted claims after March 31 last year for payment for vaccinations provided during the 2016-17 flu season which pharmacy’s negotiator said was ill-advised given the amount of time it can take to process a claim.
With High Flu Numbers, Walmart Offers Vaccination
With Arkansas and the nation only halfway through a dangerous and widespread influenza season, Walmart is reminding residents in the natural state that it's not too late to get their flu shot at their local Walmart. Doing so can help local residents avoid catching the flu or lessen the effects if you do become sick, according to health experts.
The influenza epidemic in the Tyrol has reached its peak
"We are experiencing the peak of the flu epidemic. The number of patients is at approximately the same level as last year," according to Anita Luckner-Hornischer of the Landessanitatsdirektion. About 50 to 60 percent of all influenza illnesses this year were caused by the influenza A virus, followed by influenza B, she said
New study shows flu affects the heart
Bassam Baroudi, a cardiologist with Memorial Hospital, explains that there are complications that can develop as a result of the flu and it could affect our heart. Patients with heart disease are at higher risks of heart attacks and heart failures if they are exposed to the flu. Baroudi says there is now ample evidence of the benefit of the flu vaccine. “A recent study in 2017 showed that the flu vaccine can actually reduce your mortality, can reduce the admission to the hospital, and if you’re admitted, can reduce the period you stay in the hospital and if you get to ICU, reduce the ICU state.”
Connected Thermometer Tracks the Spread and Intensity of the Flu
Kinsa thermometers connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, which pose questions about a person’s symptoms. With its thermometers in 500,000 households, Kinsa receives 25,000 temperature readings per day. The company can’t diagnose illnesses or distinguish between different kinds of sicknesses. But from gathering information about individuals’ fevers and other symptoms, it can report where flu-like symptoms are peaking. The company says its data is a close match to flu data tracked by the U.S.CDC
How to spot flu symptoms
Those who are at higher risk for developing flu-related complications should take extra precautions when they feel symptoms coming on. The CDC says these include children under 5 years old, particularly those under 2. Also at high risk are adults 65 and older, pregnant women, residents of long-term care facilities and people with medical conditions including weakened immune systems, asthma, heart disease and diabetes. "For all patients, first and foremost, you should call your health care provider, because you may be able to get (the antiviral medication) Tamiflu, and the earlier you get Tamiflu, the more likely your symptoms will go away faster," Dr Rachel Lee said.
Aussie flu "could last until March" - these are the symptoms and how to get rid of it
Aussie flu is one of of the main strains of the flu virus infecting people across the UK this year. Symptoms have been described as the same as normal flu but more severe. A doctor has revealed the outbreak could last until March. Dr Jarvis still recommends people get the flu jab.
Super Bowl stadium doing everything to fight the flu and germs as one million are set to attend
Super Bowl coordinators are taking extra precaution to prevent the spread of the deadly flu leading up to the big game. Event organizers are disinfecting the Super Bowl Experience exhibit multiple times a day and urging fans to get their flu shots before coming to the stadium. With about a million people visiting US Bank Stadium in Minnesota this week, the opportunity for the virus to spread is at an all-time high.
Minister accused of delaying proceedings allegedly linked to swine flu vaccine
In Ireland, the Minister for Health’s “intransigence” in discovering documents is delaying efforts to get on with the first of a number of cases alleging a sleep disorder was a result of the swine flu vaccine, the High Court heard. Ms Bennett’s case is among a number of similar cases being brought against the Minister, the HSE, Glaxosmithkline, which produced the vaccine, and the Health Products Regulatory Authority.
U.S. public health chief quits over financial conflicts
The head of the U.S. CDC has resigned because of financial conflicts of interest that included purchases of tobacco and healthcare stocks while in office. Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director with 30 years at the agency, will take over until a new director is named. Flu experts cheered the return of Schuchat, who played a leading role in the U.S. response to the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. “I don’t have the ear of the president, but if I did, I would say two words: Anne Schuchat,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, who would like to see Schuchat as the next CDC director. “She would have the immediate confidence of all of us in the infectious disease and public health community.”
Georgia doctors are running low on rapid flu tests
Some Georgia doctors say they are running out of rapid flu tests because of this terrible flu season. The rapid response flu test involves swabbing the back of the nose or throat to check for influenza DNA. It gives the doctor results in a matter of minutes. The FDA removed two rapid flu test brands, Osom and QuickVue, from the market over false/positives, making the shortage even worse.
Burden of disease
Flu season similar to last year according to DPHHS
State health officials report that the flu season in Montana has been similar in severity to last year. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported 2,530 cases of flu as of Jan. 20. More than 350 people in the state have been hospitalized and 20 have died. Eighteen of the deaths were among people 65 and older. Montana has not yet seen any child flu deaths this season.
Health Officials: 4-Year-Old NJ Girl Dies From The Flu
Health officials in New Jersey confirm that a 4-year-old child has died from the flu, the state’s first flu-related pediatric death this season. The girl from Central New Jersey died in December and had not received a flu vaccination, according to health officials. At least 19 states have reported one pediatric death this flu season and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu has claimed the lives of 37 children nationwide.
The flu killed nearly 3,000 people in France between the start of December and the start of January
In France, the flu epidemic has slowed down and figures show nearly 3,000 of the excess deaths between early December and early January can be attributed to the flu; 90% of the deaths are of people over 65. The final figures are expected to show less deaths than last year's flu season. Still, not enough people are getting immunised against the virus
15-Year-Old First Pediatric Flu-Related Death in Georgia
In the U.S., a 15-year-old girl from Coweta County has died from the flu. Richard Hawk, the Coweta County coroner, confirmed the 15-year-old passed away from Influenza A on Tuesday after succumbing to liver failure. Hawk said Molina did not have a flu shot and stressed the importance of getting one.
Flu cases continue to rise in Maine, but rate of increase hits plateau
Influenza cases continued to rise last week, but the rate of increase may be plateauing, according to statistics released by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. “We’re very concerned about the elderly and people with chronic conditions at home getting the flu. We have about 400 doses left of the vaccine so we thought we would use them,” Colleen Hilton, president of Maine’s Visiting Nurse Association, said. “It’s not too late to get a vaccine and try to limit your exposure to the flu.”
Flu deaths 94; governor joins call for shots
The flu-related deaths of 22 more Arkansans, including one child, were reported to the state in the past week, raising the death toll from this year's flu season to 94, state officials said Tuesday. The severity of this year's flu season prompted Gov. Asa Hutchinson to hold a news conference with state health officials, who urged Arkansans to get flu shots if they haven't already gotten them.
As flu death toll leaps to 37 in Georgia, officials plead for more to get vaccinated
This year’s flu season has now resulted in the deaths of at least 37 people in Georgia, including one minor, health officials said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The deaths come in the middle of what has now become the most virulent and intense flu season since the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic, state epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek said.
Flu reaches plateau in Quebec
In Quebec, there are twice as many cases of the flu this January than there were in January last year, and the effectiveness of the flu vaccine is being questioned. It is estimated the vaccine is around 10% effective against H3N2 and 40% against Influenza B. Children are often the way the virus gets transmitted to parents and grand-parents, who are more likely to suffer complications.
Mother-of-four is killed by the flu in three days after refusing to take Tamiflu "because her doctor warned it had dreadful side effects"
In the U.S., Amanda Franks, 38, was killed by the flu on January 17 after being diagnosed just three days prior. The mother-of-four from New Hampshire was prescribed Tamiflu but did not take it because 'the doctor said the side effects were a lot of times worse than the flu'
Taipei City strengthens influenza response as flu cases soar
With flu cases soaring, Taipei City Department of Health Commissioner Huang Shier-chieg urged hospitals and medical institutions across the city to strengthen response to the pandemic, activate facilitated diagnostic procedures, bolster influenza virus infection control, and ensure an adequate stock of antiviral medications for four weeks. The DOH said that between October 2017 and January 25, 2018, a total of 42 influenza cases with severe implications were reported, 40 of whom had not received vaccination against the disease
Flu Surveillance in Animals
Dominican Republic: avian flu outbreaks reported
In November 2017, several avian flu outbreaks were discovered in the Dominican Republic. Even though poultry was culled as a result, exports to Haiti carried on which puts the country at risk
Western Cape govt urges caution around bird flu
In South Africa, Alan Winde, MEC for Economic Opportunities, said no new outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu strain have been detected since October last year on previously uninfected chicken farms, but that the strain has been positively identified in multiple wild bird species.
Avian Flu Scan for Jan 30, 2018 - CIDRAP
Routine testing as part of avian influenza surveillance in wild birds found low levels of H7 RNA in two mallards shot in December by hunters in Georgia's McIntosh Country. In a news report, the Georgia Farm Bureau said tests were conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wildlife services, which found small amounts of avian influenza nucleic acid in swab samples collected from the two American green-winged teal ducks. Robert Cobb, DVM, Georgia's state veterinarian, said, "We know this virus is out there in the wild year-round and the detection of the virus in these wild ducks serves as a reminder for poultry producers to continue to be vigilant about following recommended biosecurity measures."
KRG bans chicken imports from 39 countries amid bird flu epidemic
The Kurdistan Region has placed a ban on chicken imports from 39 countries after bird flu spread in central Iraq and Iran. "Necessary [measures] for preventing the sickness from spreading to the Kurdistan Region have been undertaken by the Ministry. The prevention committee in the KRG has been reactivated again. Quarantine rooms for individuals suspected of being infected will be prepared in hospitals in the cities," Dr. Khalis Qadir, a spokesperson for the KRG's Ministry of Health, told Rudaw.
Gulls risk spreading bird flu as six sites now test positive throughout England
Avian influenza in wild birds has spread throughout England with six sites now identified as having shown symptoms of H5N6. The first case in West Dorset involved 31 birds of mixed species which included Mute Swans, Pochard and Canada Goose.The second case in Rugby, Warwickshire involved 13 cases of Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Great black- backed gulls and Herring Gulls. Since then four more areas have been identified including a nature reserve in Hertford, a river in Oakham, Rutland, a country park in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and a lake in North West London. Recent cases of H5N6 has been reported in gulls, which has sparked some concern in the farming industry.