|

"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 8th Feb 2018

Seqirus mentions
GPs are told to amend flu vaccine orders for next season
For the next flu season, NHS England has told GPs to ensure that they order the quadrivalent vaccine for people aged 18 to 65 who are at risk and the newly licensed adjuvanted trivalent vaccine, Fluad, for patients aged over 65. The letter, from NHS England and Public Health England, advises GPs and community pharmacy contractors to review any orders already made for the 2018-19 season and amend them if necessary. Suppliers have extended the deadline for orders until the end of March, and NHS England has confirmed that additional funding will be available in 2018-19 to support the use of adjuvanted trivalent vaccine and quadrivalent flu vaccine.
Battle of the Flu Shots
Last fall some people in the know about influenza science got picky when it came time to get their flu shots. `My colleagues who are over age 65, everybody wanted basically the Fluad or the Protein Sciences vaccine, Flublok,` said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. The proliferation of products has left some people wondering whether public health officials should do more to steer flu vaccine consumers towards Vaccine X or Vaccine Y.
Pandemic Influenza News
Vietnam issues bird flu warning after latest human case reported in China
Vietnam’s agriculture ministry issued an urgent message on Wednesday calling for increased vigilance to prevent fresh bird flu outbreaks. The risk of outbreaks and penetration of dangerous viruses such as H7N9 is “very high” due the increased trade ahead of the Lunar New Year, the ministry said. China reported another human infection of H7N9 on January 12, raising the number of people infected with avian flu in the country over the past five years to 1,624.
Industry News
Mesa Biotech Receives FDA 510(k) Clearance and CLIA Waiver for Its Accula Point of Care Flu A/Flu B Test
Mesa Biotech, a molecular diagnostic company that has developed an affordable PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing platform designed specifically for point-of-care infectious disease diagnosis, announced that it has received 510(k) clearance and Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments (CLIA) waiver from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its Accula Flu A/Flu B test. The company's Flu A/Flu B test cassette will be its first available test in the U.S. market.
Natco Pharma Q3 PAT up by 11.54%
Natco Pharma has reported a consolidated profit after tax (PAT) of Rs. 217.4 crore for the quarter that ended in December 2017, which is an increase of 11.54% over the year-earlier period’s Rs. 194.9 crore. The consolidated total revenues, however, came down by 16.27% to Rs. 573.6 crore (Rs. 685.1 crore). The decline was predominantly due to large stocking quantities of oseltamivir (generic Tamiflu) during last year’s period
Strong results but cautious outlook again the story for prudent GSK - The Pharma Letter
Just as it was a year ago, satisfaction with a strong set of financial results was tempered by concern over the upcoming impact of generic competition as UK pharma major GlaxoSmithKline presented its fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 figures. In its vaccine division there was some news. Fluarix/FluLaval: fourth-quarter sales of £111 million, an increase of 76%; full-year sales of £488 million, an increase of 18%.
No official Tamiflu shortage, yet pharmacies still face low supplies: 4 things to know
In the U.S., drug stores and pharmacy chains nationwide are experiencing spot shortages of Tamiflu and its generic version amid a severe flu season. A spokesman for Genentech, which sells Tamiflu, last week told GHN "we have a robust national supply of Tamiflu." However, increased demand for the flu medication has left pharmacies with low supplies, especially for the children's version of Tamiflu in liquid form.
Price of Tamiflu an obstacle for some flu patients
In the U.S., with a severe flu season, many are keen to treat the illness with Tamiflu. However the cost of the drug can be prohibitive, leading to patients in desperate need unable to afford it. Health insurers vary in the cover they offer so not all patients will be charged the same
Pharmacists struggle to stock Tamiflu in Central Virginia
In Virginia, pharmacists in Metro Richmond struggled to stock the antiviral medication Tamiflu amidst a deadly flu season. Cities like Washington D.C. and Raleigh both reported a shortage of Tamiflu for patients. The antiviral medications Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) can reduce the severity of symptoms and the length of illness, but the drug has to be taken within 48 hours of the first appearance of symptoms
Social Seniors Benefit From Multiple Flu Shots
A recent clinical trial reported the superiority of non-egg based flu vaccines over the traditional egg-based quadrivalent inactivated vaccine. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that Seniors given Flublok Quadrivalent were over 40% less likely to develop culture-confirmed influenza. Flublok was reported to contain three times more active ingredients than traditional vaccines and produced significantly higher immune responses to the A strains of influenza, especially H3N2, according to a study.
Academic studies
University of Maryland study: Simply breathing can spread flu virus
The University of Maryland recently published results of a study that found the flu virus spreads even easier than previously thought. The School of Public Health hopes the study will be used to help reduce the risk of flu transmission in public places. Although it's probably long been said to cover your mouth when you cough, the study results published in January show that’s not enough – because even breathing can spread the flu.
Scientists are tracking how the flu moves through a college campus
At the University of Maryland in College Park, an ongoing study tracking the spread of respiratory viruses through a student population is being carried out. The study’s goal is to better understand how these viruses move around, in order to help keep illness at bay — all the more pressing, as the current flu season is on track to be among the worst recorded in the U.S. Timing and the size of the current flu outbreak may be on the researchers’ side, as students are still waiting for this season’s flu to sweep through the dorms.
Search for universal flu vaccine underway in Rochester
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are testing a new vaccine that could be universal. “You could give it one to perhaps every five years to protect 75 percent of the population against all strains of influenza,” explained David Topham, Ph.D, the director of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence at URMC. His team is analyzing data collected during a preliminary study, but they’re ready for the next step. It will include patient volunteers to participate in an isolation study, requiring the patient to stay in the hospital for up to 14 days during monitoring
Study: Flu heightens risk for heart attacks
Researchers warn those who have the flu may not be out of the woods when they recover. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says people are six times more likely to suffer a heart attack within days of having the flu because of stress on the body and inflammation.
Researchers Focus on Flu to Help Combat Growing Epidemic
The authors of a new study published by Nature Communications have detected signs of the influenza virus genome that can determine how it will spread. Through monitoring these features, scientists may be able to help prevent a flu outbreak.
Specific protein may reduce inflammation, improve survival during the flu
GM-CSF, a protein that modifies the immune response to the flu, may also help reduce lung inflammation and improve survival during influenza, according to Penn State researchers. The researchers studied the survival and lung function of mice with influenza in the lab. They found that the mice that had been given large amounts of a special cytokine called GM-CSF, had better survival and lung function than the other mice. E. Scott Halstead, assistant professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine, said the results—published in the journal Respiratory Research—suggest that GM-CSF could be a potential therapeutic strategy for treating the flu.
Study: Flu heightens risk for heart attacks
Researchers warn those who have the flu may not be out of the woods when they recover. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says people are six times more likely to suffer a heart attack within days of having the flu because of stress on the body and inflammation.
Pediatric influenza news
How to Know When a Child’s Flu Turns Serious
In the U.S., this flu season has been a particularly scary one for parents. At least 53 children across the country have died from flu-related illness, and parents need to know how to tell if a child takes a turn for the worse — and if it’s time to rush to the hospital. It’s not an easy question to answer, experts say. It’s still not too late to be vaccinated against flu, Dr. Garg said. “We think this flu activity will continue for many weeks to come.”
Maryland Records First Influenza-Associated Pediatric Death
The Maryland Department of Health has confirmed the first influenza-associated pediatric death for this flu season in the state. Maryland public health officials have detected a marked increase in influenza activity since mid to late December and are warning the public to take measures to prevent influenza, especially by getting the influenza vaccine.
Hong Kong shuts schools in response to flu outbreak
Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong school children will be getting an early start to their Lunar New Year holiday as the city's education authorities ordered the closure of all kindergartens and primary schools to fight an outbreak of flu. Hong Kong recently expanded its free vaccination schemes for children and elderly people, and officials said hundreds of thousands of people have already been vaccinated. However, a spokeswoman for the CHP confirmed that stocks are running low, but added a new batch has been ordered for after the Lunar New Year break.
Over 65’s influenza news
Socially active older women benefit from flu vaccine
Flu shots may be especially important for older women who are socially active, a study from Japan suggests. In a study of people over age 65, unvaccinated women who regularly participated in two or more social activities were twice as likely to report a flu infection as those who didn't participate in any such activities, the study authors report. At the same time, women who were vaccinated had no additional risk.
Older people at risk as flu vaccine rates fall
Low uptake of the winter flu vaccine across Europe is jeopardising the ability of health systems to protect against the next pandemic, the WHO has warned. Older people and other high-risk groups are at risk of “serious consequences” as a result of the declining uptake of the influenza vaccination, they say. Dr Andrea Ammon, director of ECDC, said all European Union states have signed up to the goal of reaching 75 per cent uptake among older people and other vulnerable groups, but these targets were not being reached.
General Influenza News
How Effective Is the 2018 Flu Shot? Here's What You Should Know
Early findings from Canada indicate a 17 percent effectiveness for the flu shot against H3N2. One reason has to do with the most-common way flu shots are made, with inactivated flu viruses that are grown in chicken eggs. Some pharmaceutical companies are producing flu vaccine virus in mammalian cells to avoid the egg-adaption problem, and to facilitate a faster response in case of a pandemic. Cell-based technology may offer the potential for better protection over traditional, egg-based flu vaccines because it results in vaccine viruses that are more similar to flu viruses in circulation, but there are no data yet to support this.
WHO Europe/ECDC joint statement: Low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe may jeopardise capacity to protect people in next pandemic
Influenza vaccination coverage among high-risk groups has dropped in the European Region over the last seven years, and half the countries report a decrease in the number of vaccine doses available . These are the results of the first comprehensive overview of seasonal influenza vaccine coverage in the European Region of the WHO between 2008/09 and 2014/15. Low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe jeopardizes the capacity to protect people during annual epidemics and the next pandemic, the two organizations warn.
Burden of disease
Flu still going strong in Switzerland
After reaching a second peak, the flu epidemic in Switzerland is now starting to slow down, even though the under 4s are still being particularly affected. The last time a flu epidemic reached two peaks was 2003/2004
Flu Scan for Feb 06, 2018
Flu activity is still high in the Northern Hemisphere's temperate-zone countries, with a few countries now reporting hospitalization and intensive care unit admission levels that top previous seasons, the World Health Organization said in its latest global flu update. Adults ages 65 and older are the hardest hit groups in both Canada and the United States. Elsewhere in North America, flu activity is on the rise in Mexico, much of it from H3N2.
Flu count continues to rise in Pa., N.J., and Del.
This past week, Pennsylvania counted almost 9,000 cases of the flu. That’s up from the week prior, when 8,000 people were tallied. There were also 26 flu related deaths. In part, that’s because this year’s vaccine may not have been as effective as in years past. But scientists and doctors are still recommending it because even though the vaccine may not work to prevent people from getting the flu, it can prevent it from becoming fatal.
Health experts sound caution over H1N1 outbreak
In India, experts with the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program and the National Institute of Virology which has an affiliated laboratory at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases said Bangalore witnessed a spike in H1N1 cases in 2017 due to a mutation in the virus known as the Michigan Strain. Data collated by the Health and Family Welfare department till February 5, 2017, shows there were 107 positive cases of H1N1 reported from the city with 1 death. This year, the number is 3 positive cases with no deaths, but experts say it is too early to predict a fall in the numbers.
Doctors say 3 strains of influenza around during intense flu season
In the U.S., a deadly flu epidemic continues to rage from coast to coast, and officials said the epidemic hasn't even reached its peak. There are also three major strains of the flu circulating and people have the chance of getting the flu three times this season.
Influenza-related deaths reach 100 in Kentucky
The Department for Public Health said Kentucky has 100 flu-related deaths from the flu epidemic. At least four of those deaths have been pediatric cases, officials said. This season’s H3N2 strain of the flu virus can be extremely serious, even deadly, not just for those in higher risk categories but to generally healthy Kentuckians as well, according to public health officials.
A 38-Year-Old Weatherford Teacher Has Died From Flu Complications
A second-grade teacher in Weatherford, Texas, died Sunday following complications from the flu. Heather Holland, who was 38 years old, started to feel sick last Monday and went to a doctor who prescribed her Tamiflu Wednesday. But she did not buy the Tamiflu, originally believing it was too expensive, and only started taking it once her husband purchased it for her a day later. She ultimately died from septic shock
Influenza - the number of new cases has increased significantly again
In the past week, the number of new cases has again increased significantly. In Vienna, according to the municipal influenza reporting service, about 13,700 new cases were registered. That was an estimated 1,100 more than the week before. "Influenza virus activity continues to be high in Austria, and we have seen another increase in influenza virus detection this week, with influenza B viruses (70% of circulating influenza viruses) still prevalent, as well as influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 viruses (23 percent), "reported the Diagnostic Influenza Network Austria (DINO) recently in a press release.
2 confirmed pediatric flu-related deaths in Alabama
The number of flu-related deaths in the state of Alabama drastically jumped in just the last week. This season the flu has even taken the lives of two Alabama children. According to Dr. Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health, now that adult cases are being recorded they expect the flu-related death numbers to increase each week.
NYC officials stress importance of vaccinations after 2 kids die from the flu
The New York City Department of Health is speaking out after two children died from the flu. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said many people are still not getting vaccinated, putting themselves, their children and others at risk.
Flu Surveillance in Animals
Flock owners warned of bird flu risk after eagle found dead
In Ireland, a white-tailed sea eagle has been found dead due to avian flu. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed that avian influenza subtype H5N6 was found in a wild bird in Co Tipperary. The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the European Centre for Disease Control advise that the risk to public health from H5N6 avian influenza is very low and that the disease poses no food safety risk for consumers. The finding, it is said, is not unexpected given the detection of highly pathogenic H5N6 in wild birds in multiple locations in Great Britain since the start of January and in other European countries prior to that.
Avian Flu: flock of 4,200 ducks culled in the Loire-Atlantique region
In the Loire-Atlantique region of France, an H5 avian flu virus was found on a duck farm, and as a precautionary measure, 4,200 ducks were culled. There are no concerns with regard to transmission to humans
Health advice for travelers to 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea: WHO
Currently, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting an increase in seasonal influenza (influenza type B and A(H3N2)). The country has also been experiencing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N6) in birds and poultry. No human cases of A(H5N6) have been detected during these outbreaks and the risk of human infection is considered very low.
Windsor Swans: Bird flu confirmed in Queen's flock
An illness which led to the death of dozens of the Queen's swans in Windsor has been confirmed as bird flu, Defra has said. More than 30 of the swans on the River Thames have died and several more are "still dying". Seven of the dead birds were sent for testing on Monday after experts suspected an outbreak of avian flu. Defra has said that the outbreak, which is the largest in England this year, will not lead to a cull of the birds.
High-path avian flu outbreaks reported in Mideast, Asia, Europe
In the latest avian flu developments, three countries in the Middle East — Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel — reported highly pathogenic outbreaks, and the United Kingdom and Ireland reported more avian flu in wild birds. The UK outbreak involved swans from a flock owned by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor.
Israel finds case of severe H5N8 bird flu, sounds all-clear
Israel has reported a case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus in a wild bird, the OIE said on Wednesday, citing a report from Israel’s agriculture ministry. Contacted by Reuters, a spokeswoman for the ministry confirmed the case, saying it was isolated and contained. The virus was detected in a wild owl in Jerusalem that died after showing clinical symptoms, the OIE said