"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 2nd Feb 2018

Seqirus mentions
GP practices told to freeze flu vaccine orders until further notice
GP practices 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, an adjuvanted vaccine, which they said should be given to over-75s in the 2018/19 flu season.
PHE supports use of trivalent flu vaccine in older people to reduce hospitalisations
New Public Health England guidance supports the use of the adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine in older people saying that it would lead to large reductions in GP consultations and hospitalisations. Priority for the aTIV should be for those aged 75 years and above, but the vaccine would also be effective and cost-effective in those aged 65–74 years. The guidance states: “Trivalent adjuvanted vaccine is a more appropriate choice than standard quadrivalent vaccine for older people.”
Pandemic Influenza News

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Industry News
Should I take Tamiflu? Concerns raised about drug used to ease flu symptoms
Some areas of the U.S. may have shortages of Tamiflu. The drug manufacturer and the CDC say there is enough supply overall. But, on top of the flu epidemic, some parents are worried about reports of rare, severe side effects from Tamiflu, such as seizures, self-injury and hallucinations among children who have taken the medication. It is not clear if Tamiflu can cause suicidal behavior. Genentech notes that flu itself "hallucinations, delirium and abnormal behavior, in some cases resulting in fatal outcomes".
Flu Season Expected to Benefit GlaxoSmithKline’s 4Q17 Revenues
In 3Q17, GlaxoSmithKline’s influenza vaccine, Fluarix/FluLaval, reported sales close to 343 million pounds, which is year-over-year growth of 6% on a reported basis, but a 2% drop on a constant exchange rate basis.
Independent Pharmacies Report Underpayments for Flu Drugs
In the U.S., pharmacies are reporting underpayment for flu medication such as Tamiflu, or generic oseltamivir, according to a recent survey administered by the National Community Pharmacists Association. The NCPA stated that this underpayment leaves pharmacies in jeopardy as they continue to dispense the flu medication. The findings showed that 88% of independent pharmacy owners who responded to the survey have experienced numerous cases of reimbursement for Tamiflu or oseltamivir that fell below their acquisition costs.
Local pharmacy turning generic Tamiflu capsules into liquid during drug shortage
In the U.S., a spike in flu cases has many people searching for Tamiflu. However, it may be hard to find the drug due to a nationwide shortage. At her Pharmacy in Palm Harbor, Nicolette Mathey says the generic liquid form of Tamiflu is back ordered at many pharmacies, which is why they are coming up with an alternative. Pharmacists call it "compounding." They take the powder out of the capsule and put it into a liquid. From there, they sell it at a fraction of the price.
Families raise concern about Tamiflu side effects
One Indiana family claims the drug Tamiflu had an extreme side effect that prompted their teenager to kill himself. Genentech, the manufacturer of Tamiflu, declined to comment on Charlie Harp's death but offered this statement: "Neuropsychiatric events have been reported during administration of Tamiflu in patients with influenza, especially in children and adolescents. These events are also experienced by patients with influenza without Tamiflu administration."
Influenza vaccines announced for NZ flu season
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.
Shot in the dark: Why does the flu vaccine vary and is there an alternative approach?
Vaccitech has already begun its two-year Phase II clinical trial of a universal flu vaccine. More than 2,000 people aged 65 years and older have been registered at six general practices to take part in the trial over the course of the winter season. Those who participate will be randomised to either receive the current vaccine in addition to a placebo jab or the new universal flu shot. It is expected to be completed in 2019. Although this is not the only universal vaccine for influenza out there, it is the first one that has made it into the second phase of clinical study.
Flu Vaccine Shortage Sparks Worries Amid Surge In Cases
In New York, new fears are mounting about the flu, with people rushing to get protected and finding that providers are running out of the vaccine. CBS2 checked with 12 pharmacies in Manhattan and Westchester County. They all said they were out of vaccine and did not know when or if they would get more. Doctors’ offices and pharmacies have also reported they are running out of the antiviral Tamiflu
Vaxart Announces Its Oral Flu Vaccine Significantly Reduced Rate of Influenza Infection in Phase 2 Challenge Study
Vaxart, which develops oral recombinant vaccines administered by tablet rather than by injection, announced that its investigational H1 influenza oral tablet vaccine demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in the rate of influenza infection compared with placebo, and compared favorably with the market-leading injectable quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV) in a Phase 2 challenge trial.
Big Pharma has the flu
We've long known that our flu vaccines aren't built to last, or to tackle every strain. But pharma companies don't have an incentive to research drugs that will make them less money—not while current vaccines are good enough to make them $3 billion a year. To drive those new vaccines forward, medicine needs a Manhattan Project-style investment, pulling on resources outside the drug industry to force a new generation of vaccines into existence.
Academic studies
Detailed Study of Flu Genome May Help Efforts to Detect Potential Pandemic
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say they have identified features of the influenza virus genome that affect how well the virus multiplies. The team believes its findings ("Nucleotide Resolution Mapping of Influenza A Virus Nucleoprotein–RNA Interactions Reveals RNA Features Required for Replication”), could help improve surveillance to detect a potential pandemic. The features that were identified are similar, but not identical, across viral strains. It's possible that the extent of similarity between strains influences whether two flu viruses can mix their genetic material to make a hybrid virus with the potential to explode into pandemic flu, according to the scientists.
Nanoparticle vaccine for universal protection against influenza
Scientists have developed a novel universal vaccine to combat influenza A viruses. The new vaccine aims to produce long-lasting immunity. The results to date are based on studies undertaken using an animal model. Scientists revealed that vaccinating mice against influenza viruses using double-layered protein nanoparticles was successful. The target the stalk of the protein was found to produce long-lasting immunity.
Pediatric influenza news
Girl, 15, dies of the flu days after testing negative for the deadly virus
15 year-old Kira Molina became the first reported flu-related child death in Georgia this season. Reports show that the high-schooler died of liver failure after falling ill last week but testing negative for the virus, though it was later confirmed she had influenza A.
Mother warns parents after son with hives tests positive for influenza with no other symptoms
In the U.S., a concerned mother’s photo is going viral, warning parents to be alert over this deadly flu season. Brodi Willard shared a photo of her 6-year-old son’s hives on Facebook. She says they thought it was just an allergic reaction, since her son had no other symptoms, but the boy tested positive for influenza. Willard did not say if her son had been given a flu shot this season. The CDC notes that, because the influenza vaccine is made with eggs, those with an egg allergy can develop hives if given the shot.
Schools in flu mayhem as child death toll climbs: Campuses closed in 13 states to "disinfect" classrooms
In the U.S., the flu has forced schools in at least 13 states to close this week. So far, more than 40 children - including three reported just this week - have died of the aggressive H3N2 flu strain, which is widespread in every state except for Hawaii - this season. Schools are shutting their doors as scores of teachers and students call out sick and health officials scramble to disinfect educational facilities and properties. The CDC urges families to keep their children home if they are sick, but many young mothers have also succumbed to the virus after caring for their ill children.
10-year-old among latest flu deaths in San Diego
The flu contributed to the death of another child last week, further highlighting the severity of what is shaping up to be the worst influenza epidemic since the pandemic year of 2009. “There is no question in my mind that, if you’ve been vaccinated, you’re less likely to get severely ill than if you haven’t been vaccinated, and you see that time and time again when you look at who dies and who doesn’t,” Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley said.
Influenza increases the risk of complications in pregnancy
Elsa Viora, president of the Italian hospital obstetric gynecologists association.(AOGOI) said "The classic flu symptoms, such as joint pain, headache, cold, cough, phlegm and fever, if left uncontrolled, do not involve specific risks for the fetus, but you need to pay particular attention in the case of respiratory symptoms and if your temperature rises too high. This means that the risk lay in the physiological decline of the immune defenses, a fact which exposes pregnant women more to the risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, while a high fever could cause the appearance of contractions of the uterus and induce premature labor, with possible risks to the health of the newborn
Over 65’s influenza news
N.C. flu deaths climb to 95; elderly comprises nearly two-thirds of victims
In North Carolina, the death total from the 2017-18 flu season has climbed sharply again, reaching 95 for the week that ended Jan. 27. Twenty-one of the 27 new flu-related deaths were individuals ages 65 and older, while seven were ages 50 to 64.
Assisted living facilities take extra steps to protect elderly from flu virus
As the flu continues to hit Wisconsin hard, the elderly population is among the age groups more vulnerable to the virus. The state Department of Health Services shows flu activity has continued to increase statewide. Through the hard-hitting flu season, staff at assisted living centers, like Primrose Retirement Communities in Wausau, are taking several measures to keep their residents safe. Most residents were vaccinated in the fall
General Influenza News
Effectiveness of flu shot under 20 per cent for dominant strain, experts say
Researchers say the effectiveness of this season's flu shot has been low, with the vaccine preventing only 10 to 20 per cent of infections caused by the dominant H3N2 strain affecting Canadians. Lead researcher Danuta Skowronski of the BC Centre for Disease Control says that's in line with what Australia experienced during the southern hemisphere's flu season, which ended in late August as Canada's was about to begin.
CDC Chooses United Way to Participate in National Flu Pandemic Response System
United Way of Westchester and Putnam has been chosen by the Centers for Disease Control as one of 27 call centers across the nation to participate in Flu on Call, a public health emergency response system in the event of a national flu pandemic. Flu on Call is a national network of triage lines, staffed by trained information specialists and medical professionals, designed to be used during a severe pandemic.
Influenza 2018 - experts expect the worst flu epidemic in years
"In Germany, there are already 11,000 reported flu cases, the number of unreported cases is probably ten times higher," says general practitioner Dr. Markus Frühwein.Why will the flu season hit us particularly hard this year? According to the Robert Koch Institute, 72 percent of reported flu cases have been caused by influenza B viruses, usually its the influenza A strain, although the type of virus is not as aggressive as the virus currently circulating in the US, nevertheless, doctors are also expecting many influenza patients in Germany in the coming weeks - significantly more than during a normal flu season.
Liverpool hospital best in the country for flu vaccinations
In the UK, Aintree University Hospital has protected more frontline staff against the flu than any other hospital in the country this winter. According to the latest figures from Public Health England, Aintree has vaccinated more staff than any other NHS organisation, with 86.9% of patient-facing staff receiving their flu jab at work
More potent flu vaccine "would have cost double"
In Ireland, the health service would need to more than double its spending on flu vaccines to protect against a virus strain responsible for most cases so far this season. Simon Harris, the health minister, said he had been advised by the HSE that the cost of providing a quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four strains of flu, would be €9 million. This compared with between €3 million and €4 million for a trivalent vaccine to protect against three strains.
Why We're Still So Unprepared for Flu and Other Crises
We remain unprepared for the next pandemic flu, though experts warn it’s only a matter of time before a new strain capable of killing millions will emerge. As epidemiologist Michael Osterholm and writer Mark Olshaker wrote recently, we aren’t even prepared for this year’s seasonal flu. The outbreak has killed 37 children as of late January, according to the CDC. Osterholm and Olshaker wrote that much more money must go into the development of a so-called universal flu vaccine
WHO due to issue recommendations for next flu season
The World Health Organization is expected to issue a recommendation on the influenza virus vaccines for use in 2018-2019 in Ireland, and other northern hemisphere countries, in a month’s time. Experts from collaborating centres for influenza, regulatory and reference laboratories — plus experts on animal influenza — are due to meet at the WHO in Geneva from February 19-21, 2018 to decide on the composition of the influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2018/19 influenza season for northern hemisphere countries.
FDA's Gottlieb Issues Statement On Efforts To Mitigate Impact Of Saline Shortages During Flu Season
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has issued a statement on the ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of saline shortages during the flu season
Should all teachers receive the "flu" vaccination for free?
With the number of cases of influenza in the UK this winter, it should be everyone’s priority to get the flu vaccination. However with the fairly high price of ten pounds per vaccine, this may be impossible for some. For the very young, very old and those with medical conditions, this injection is free. But others, such as teachers, should also receive the flu vaccine for free
Burden of disease
Revealed: Children among 55 to die from flu this year as death toll rises
In Ireland, the death toll from flu this season has climbed to 55, new figures reveal. This is an increase of 21 victims in the space of a week. The majority of people who have died from the virus are over 65 years old, with a small number of fatalities among children. The good news is that the spread of flu is falling but so far it is a small decrease.
Seasonal rates of flu 'stabilising', but still remain high
In the UK, seasonal levels of flu are stabilising, with fewer people consulting a doctor, Public Health England has said. But they "remain high", its adds in its latest weekly report. In week four, the agency said there were 52.1 GP consultations per 100,000 in England, compared to 54.1 per 100,00 in week three. The best form of protection against flu is to get the vaccine and to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene, Richard Pebody from PHE said, adding that vaccination rates had increased compared to last year. An additional one and a half million people have had the jab.
Greece reports 5 flu victims in a week; measles epidemic continues
Five patients died within the past week from complications after contracting the seasonal flu virus, the Greek Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) announced. The five victims, as well as a 79-year-old man who was the first recorded victim of influenza in Greece this season in November, had not been vaccinated, although five of them were in a population segment at high risk of flu complications
38 more people in South Carolina died from the flu; virus showing no signs of slowing down
Another 38 South Carolinians have died from the flu, the state health department reported Wednesday, bringing the total this season to 84 deaths in the state. To make matters worse, the latest flu report offers no evidence the virus is slowing down.
Flu Death Count In PA Rises To 65, 2 Children
Eighteen more flu-related deaths were reported in Pennsylvania during the most recent week for which totals have been released. That brings the total number of flu-related deaths this season in Pennsylvania to 65. The state's flu-related deaths now include two children and three young adults. Twelve people aged 50 to 64 have died, as well as 48 people aged 65 and older.
Flu cases in Arizona nearly at level of 2009-2010 pandemic
Flu cases continue to surge in Arizona, with the outbreak so far this season nearly as bad as during all of the entire 2009-2010 season when there was a global outbreak. The state Department of Health Services says the 1,454 cases reported the week of Jan. 21-27 raised Arizona’s total flu cases so far this season to 19,279. The total so far this season is dramatically higher than the 2,175 cases reported by the same point last year and about equal with the 19,906 flu cases reported during the entire 2009-2010 H1N1 flu pandemic.
Three year old girl dies of the flu
In France a three year old girl has died from the flu, in the Savoie area. Almost 3,000 people are thought to have died from the virus so far this season. This is less than last season. Two regions were trialed for pharmacy based flu vaccinations, and this might be extended
This is officially the most severe season & worst flu week Pennsylvania has had in years
Pennsylvania is in the grip of its most severe flu season in recent years, and this past week has been the worst so far, according to the Department of Health. Eighteen more deaths were reported statewide, bringing the season’s total to 65. Nearly 10,000 new flu cases were confirmed, raising the season’s total to 35,453 — though officials say confirmed cases represent only a small fraction of the total illnesses.
North, South Korea report flu outbreaks ahead of Winter Olympics
North Korea is facing a potentially deadly strain of seasonal flu. According to a report from the World Health Organization, North Korea documented 126,574 individuals with flu-like symptoms and 81,640 confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) between December 1 and January 16.
To Deal With a Flu Onslaught, Emergency Rooms Expand Into Waiting Rooms
Emergency departments across the U.S. have been slammed in recent weeks by an onslaught of flu visits, forcing hospitals to devise new spaces to house patients, to restrict visitors and to postpone elective surgeries. NYC Health & Hospitals has seen a 40% increase in the number of people being tested for the flu compared with this time last year, according to Sean Studer, deputy chief medical officer of the group, which runs New York City’s public hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities.
Flu rates high and still rising in parts of England
Official data confirm that the UK is currently undergoing its most severe flu outbreak since the start of the decade. However, in the week to 28 January flu rates fell in all four UK countries, but remain at a 'high' or 'medium' level on the official epidemic measurement scale. Acting head of the Public Health England respiratory diseases department Richard Pebody said: "Rates of vaccination across all those eligible for the vaccine have increased on last season and we have vaccinated an additional 1.5m people."
Flu death toll hits 231 in the UK: Killer outbreak is 'stabilising' across the UK as NHS tells doctors to freeze all flu vaccine orders
The flu death toll in the UK has now reached 231, latest statistics shows as officials claim the killer outbreak is now 'stabilising'. New infections have fallen across the UK, with the number of people reporting flu-like symptoms having halved in the space of a week. It comes as GPs across England have been ordered to freeze all flu vaccine orders until clinical evidence for the jabs are re-evaluated by officials.
Flu: Warning as cases double in Lancashire - with alert issued over "deadly consequences"
In Lancashire, UK, the number of people going to see their GP with flu symptoms has doubled in recent weeks, sparking a warning from health bosses. People most at risk of catching the virus have been urged to get themselves vaccinated – before they fall seriously ill.
Potential AL flu-related deaths climb to 53; 1 child death confirmed
The Alabama Department of Public Health released new data showing an increase in the number of potential flu-related deaths it is investigating since Jan. 11, the day Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state public health emergency. The figures for non-pediatric deaths have climbed from 44 a week ago to 53 at the end of January. ADPH is looking at medical records for each case to confirm the diagnoses. There has been one confirmed flu-related pediatric death since Oct. 1.
Flu Surveillance in Animals
21 million birds lost to H5N8 virus
In Iran, more than 21 million chickens have been culled because of the H5N8 avian influenza virus in order to prevent an outbreak of the disease, said the head of the Iran’s Veterinary Organization Alireza Rafieeipour
Vietnam records no new bird flu virus strains
Vietnam has to date detected no new avian flu virus strains despite its location in the Southeast Asian region’s hotspot of the diseases. According to the Department of Preventative Medicine, Vietnam is at high risks of being inflicted with new virus strains via regional trade and traveling activities. However, the country has yet to detect bird flu viruses A/H7N9, A/H5N2 and A/H5N8 on both human and poultry, and A/H5N8 on human.
UK detects more avian flu as Dutch get to grips with H5N6
Three more highly pathogenic H5N6 outbreaks in separate locations in the UK have been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) this week. All of the detections involved dead wild birds and the UK has now reported 6 cases of the H5N6 virus since it was first discovered at Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast in the middle of January. The latest reported cases were in 2 mute swans found in a park in London; a tufted duck in a park in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and 8 mallards and a moorhen in Rutland in the East Midlands.
Suspected bird flu outbreak in Mondulkiri
In Cambodia, Mondulkiri provincial authorities on Thursday announced that there was a suspected outbreak of bird flu, or H5N1, in Keo Sima district after more than 60 chickens became sick last week. Sok Kheang, the chief of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department in Mondulkiri, told Khmer Times that since last week more than 60 chickens belonging to villagers in Keo Sima district started to show signs of illness. He said the department took the chickens to be examined at the Pasture Institute, but there has not been any confirmation of H5N1 so far.