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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 12th Feb 2018

Seqirus mentions
New flu vaccine guidance for 2018–2019 winter season
For the 2018–2019 winter season in England, GP practices and pharmacy contractors should offer the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) for all patients aged 65 years and over, and the quadrivalent vaccine (QIV) for people aged 18 to 65 years in at-risk groups, according to guidance from NHS England and Public Health England.
Pandemic Influenza News
3 ways the US should prepare for the next flu pandemic
The U.S. must improve its ability to stop a new flu pandemic, as well as to reduce the annual impact of influenza infections. To do so, researchers need to improve the flu vaccine, but the federal government has only allocated US$75 million this year toward flu vaccine research. To prevent flu pandemics, public health officials need more and better information about influenza outbreaks. The CDC has led efforts to coordinate global surveillance, but the Trump administration hopes to slash funding for the CDC, as well as global health programs.
World must act faster to prevent pandemic diseases - U.N. risk chief
The world must ramp up efforts to prevent huge infectious disease outbreaks - such as flu strains that can jump from animals to humans - which could kill millions of people, the chief of the U.N.’s disaster risk agency said on Saturday. The use of vaccine technologies and disease surveillance is very low across most of the world because the dangers posed by pandemics are “out of sight, out of mind”, said Robert Glasser, head of the United Nations’ Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Industry News
The hunt for a better flu vaccine
In the search for a universal flu vaccine, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have developed a new approach for a vaccine that tested successfully in animals. GlaxoSmithKline is in the early stages of testing another promising approach in people. And the newly launched Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative is sequencing the blood of individuals who receive the current flu vaccine or are infected with the virus. The group hopes to shed light on the body’s immune response to ultimately develop better treatments.
Collier CVS and Walgreens stores out of flu vaccines, with no plans to restock
In Collier County, in the U.S., employees at CVS and Walgreens confirmed that they are out of the influenza vaccine and do not plan to get more shipments. A Walgreens employee at Vanderbilt and U.S. 41 said the pharmacy’s distributor, Amerisource, is out and not making any more of the influenza vaccinations right now. Flu shots are available at local Publix, Walmart and Costco locations.
Experts insist flu vaccines are "66 per cent effective" amid doubts cast by another Hong Kong celebrity Leon Lai
More Hong Kong doctors and two pharmaceutical giants weighed in on the effectiveness of the current flu vaccine – estimated at 66 per cent by a team of researchers – as a second celebrity cast doubt on Friday. In a Facebook post, Canto-pop singer Leon Lai Ming said “flu vaccines currently available in the market are very likely to be stocks from the previous season”. “They are not flu vaccines targeting the new strain,” he claimed. GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement: “GSK’s quadrivalent influenza vaccines are in single dose pre-filled syringes and do not contain mercuric compounds as preservative, and also do not contain aluminium.” Sanofi Pasteur said that their flu vaccines also did not contain mercuric compounds and aluminium and that the virus strains in their vaccines “totally fit the recommendations of the WHO”.
Generic Tamiflu For Children Is In Short Supply Locally
In Pittsburgh, with influenza still on the rise, it was inevitable that one medication used to reduce the flu’s severity would be in short supply. “We do have some pharmacies in the area that will tell us they are out this week of Tamiflu,” Dr. Patrick Tate, a South Hills pediatrician, said. Tate says it’s not a manufacturing issue but a supply issue, and it’s especially acute for children with the flu.
Spot Shortages Of Antiviral Drugs Seen As Flu Season Drags On
In the U.S., the peak of the flu season could still be several weeks away, federal health officials cautioned Friday. The CDC recommends antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu or oseltamivir, for vulnerable populations hit by flu. There are spot shortages of the antiviral drugs, Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC, said. People seeking them may need to call multiple pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. The CDC has been working with insurers and pharmacies to alleviate those shortages and to make brand-name drugs available at a lower cost when generics aren't available.
Historic Flu Season Drives Sales Across the Health-Care Industry
A historically bad flu season has sent Americans to the doctor in droves -- and given a boost to companies across the health-care business. For pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, vaccine sales have surged. Glaxo saw flu-vaccine sales increase 86 percent in the last quarter, while Sanofi sold 21 percent more flu vaccines last quarter. “We delivered a strong performance in flu vaccines,” said Olivier Brandicourt, Sanofi’s CEO. “This was driven by pandemic purchases in the U.S.”
Experimental Drug Promises to Kill the Flu Virus in a Day
A Japanese drugmaker says it has developed a pill that can kill the flu virus within a day. But even if the experimental drug lives up to the claim, it likely won’t be available in the U.S. until next year at the earliest. A late-stage trial on Japanese and American flu patients found that for the people who took the Shionogi compound, the median time taken to wipe out the virus was 24 hours. That is much quicker than any other flu drug on the market, including Roche’s Tamiflu, which the trial showed took three times longer to achieve the same result
Sanofi Pasteur posts 8.3% growth despite 2017 vaccine setbacks
Despite numerous challenges that cropped up during the year, Sanofi's vaccines outfit grew revenues 8.3% in 2017 to Euro5.1 billion ($6.25 billion), helping the drug giant as its pharma segment struggled. Sanofi grew flu vaccine sales 8.2% for the year to Euro1.59 billion ($1.95 billion), maintaining its leadership position in that market. Sanofi's $6.25 billion in vaccine sales came short of GSK's 2017 haul of $7.24 billion and Merck's total of $6.5 billion. Pfizer, another large vaccine player, generated $6 billion in vaccine sales for the year.
Academic studies
Far-UVC Light Takes Out Airborne Flu Viruses
Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center have discovered that continuous low doses of far ultraviolet C (far-UVC) light can kill airborne flu viruses without harming human tissues. “If our results are confirmed in other settings, it follows that the use of overhead low-level far-UVC light in public locations would be a safe and efficient method for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases, such as influenza and tuberculosis,” study leader David Brenner said.
U of I research shows "smart" thermometers could predict flu outbreaks earlier
University of Iowa researchers published a study that analyzed eight million readings from one company’s “smart” thermometers. They found it’s statistically possible to forecast the spread of the flu two or three weeks earlier than other methods. They cooperated with Kinza, Inc—a manufacturer of smart thermometers that collect data on temperatures, symptoms and other information through a smart phone application
Mutations in the PA Protein of Avian H5N1 Influenza Viruses Affect Polymerase Activity and Mouse Virulence
H5N1 influenza viruses cause severe infections in humans with a case fatality rate that exceeds 50%. The factors that determine the high virulence of these viruses in humans are not fully understood. A study identified two amino acid changes in the viral polymerase PA protein that affect the activity of the viral polymerase complex and virulence in mice. Infection with viruses possessing these amino acid changes may pose an increased risk to humans.
Researchers tackle flu virus as Central Mass. cases rise
Combining drugs, instead of relying on one drug such as Tamiflu to treat or prevent flu symptoms, could reduce the viruses’ ability to become drug-resistant. It’s not just a theoretical concern, as there have been pockets of resistance to Tamiflu cropping up. A UMass team is researching potential drug therapies that could more effectively treat the flu, reduce symptoms, boost the immune system and get around the problem of drug resistance.
Pediatric influenza news
Pediatrician: "Flu just spread like wildfire"
From coast to coast, pediatricians in the United States say this year's flu season ranks among the toughest they've seen. CNN spoke with seven pediatricians across the country, all of whom said they are continuing to vaccinate their patients. They also said that patients who received the influenza vaccine and still got sick had less severe symptoms than those who were not vaccinated. They said that despite criticism, Tamiflu and other antiviral medications have become a strong ally in the battle.
Flu Blamed For Fourth Pediatric Death In New York City
Flu fears were on the rise Sunday after sources say the virus claimed the life of a fourth child in New York City Saturday night. More than 60 children nationwide have been killed by the flu this year compared to only 20 this time last year. Sources tell CBS2 the most recent victim, a five-year-old girl in Brooklyn, had flu-like symptoms on Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear if the girl was vaccinated, but with more than two months left in the season officials say it isn’t too late — everyone should be.
Flu shot clinics extended with 2 child deaths from influenza B
In Canada, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health is extending its flu shot clinics on Chancellors Way in Guelph for the next two days in response to two children dying from influenza B. WDG Public Health confirmed the disease is responsible for the two reported deaths and said there is no evidence to show the two cases are related.
Former Hong Kong health chief says school flu closures ‘justified’, slams misleading vaccine claims
Hong Kong’s former health minister Dr Ko Wing-man has thrown his weight behind his successor’s decision to suspend school amid a serious flu outbreak, while also lashing out against misleading claims made by local celebrities about vaccines. Ko also said it could be controversial to push for mandatory flu jabs as the government revealed that it was considering a voluntary citywide vaccination scheme at schools during the next winter flu season. This came amid an acute shortage of flu vaccines as all clinics have already ran out, and each private doctor would each get 10 vaccines if drug makers delivered the next stock in late Match.
First infant/toddler flu death reported in Indiana
In Indiana, the first flu death in the age range of 0-4 years old was reported this week as part of an overall jump in flu deaths to 167 in total for the season. Thirty-one new flu deaths were reported this week, according to the Indiana State Department of Health's weekly release on the state of the influenza virus.
Four Children Have Died From Flu This Season
Four children have died from the flu in Illinois so far this season, officials said Friday. This is the worst flu season for Illinois since 2009, according to statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health. University of Chicago pediatric infectious disease Doctor Daniel Johnson says some of this year’s vaccine is not as effective as previous years, but you need to get a vaccine.
NYC confirms 3rd child flu death
Officials have confirmed the third pediatric flu death in New York City of this 2017-18 flu season. "The tragic death of a child due to the flu is a reminder of the devastating effects this illness can have on people of all ages," the NYC health department said in a statement. "The influenza season is far from over, and it is not too late to get the flu shot. We urge parents to protect themselves and their families by getting this potentially life-saving vaccine today."
Guelph girl, 12, died from flu, second death suspected to be flu-related
In Canada, 12 year old Layna Vu Pollard, a Grade 7 student from Westminster Woods Public School in Guelph, died on Jan. 31 after she contracted influenza B. Pollard's death is the area's first pediatric death by flu this season, Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health and CEO of Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health, told CBC K-W. A second child has also died, also believed to be from influenza, but that has not yet been confirmed by public health, Mercer said.
Bari, 26 year old pregnant in a coma fighting for her life because of the flu: doctors opt for a Cesearian section to help her and the baby
A 26-year-old woman from the province of Bari gave birth to her daughter as she struggled between life and death because of the flu. It happened on Sunday 4 February. The health clinic doctors decided on a caesarean section in the 27th week of pregnancy shortly after the woman arrived, as reported by the Corriere del Mezzogiorno, because of the fear she would have health complications because of seasonal flu
Over 65’s influenza news

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General Influenza News
Arkansans Donate Blood Amid Shortage Driven by Influenza
Arkansans are stepping up to fill a decline in blood donors due to the rising number of flu cases in the state. Donors helped to supplement the state's blood supply after many people who regularly give blood at churches and schools became ill with influenza and were unable to make donations. Officials say the institute is currently meeting demand but that maintaining an inventory has become a concern.
Charity Commission to question Christian megachurch over "flu shot" video
In the UK, the Charity Commission is to question a Christian megachurch over a video that urged people to “inoculate yourself with the word of God” against flu. In a clip that has been viewed nearly a quarter of a million times across Facebook and YouTube, televangelist Gloria Copeland told believers that "we've already had our shot" thanks to God who "bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases"
Health and Human Services secretary holds briefing on flu preparedness, response
In the U.S., Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar held a briefing on preparedness and response efforts for seasonal and pandemic influenza. Secretary Azar discussed his experience overseeing HHS ongoing flu activities and his time working with other public health leaders during his previous time at HHS.
Singer Kay Tse embroiled in flu vaccine controversy
In Hong Kong, as the government scrambles to contain the influenza outbreak, a famous Cantopop singer has found herself at the center of a controversy regarding the effectiveness of the influenza vaccines provided to the public. Kay Tse On-kei was heard telling her friends in a private chat group in a WhatsApp audio recording about her doubts on the effectiveness of the vaccines against the flu outbreak this year
Virologist discusses the vagaries of the flu
Harvard Medicine News sat down with virologist Daniel Kuritzkes, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, to talk about what makes the flu virus so elusive. He explains how the biggest game changer on the prevention front would be a universal flu vaccine, an elusive goal that has tantalized scientists for decades. There have been several reports of advances on that front in animals, and a clinical trial in humans is currently under way in the United Kingdom based on research emanating from Oxford University.
Trump, Tell Us About Your Flu Shot
It is now likely that more than 56,000 Americans will die of flu this year. That was the prediction made on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If President Trump can claim credit for the fact that no Americans died in plane crashes in his first year in office, he must also shoulder some blame for this — and the connection to the White House is much easier to draw. Mr. Trump’s disastrous choices for public-health leadership did contribute to the deaths that will occur between now and summer.
Gov. Cuomo orders flu aid for counties
Confirmed cases of the flu in New York state shot up 35 percent last week, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to authorize emergency financial assistance to counties fighting the flu. Cuomo did not say how much financial assistance would be offered to local health departments, but urged them to reach people who haven't yet gotten a flu shot, and to reach out to places like daycare centers, nursing homes, senior centers and homeless shelters where flu can be spread, and work with local school districts that may be seeing higher numbers of flu absences.
Flu vaccination coverage has been declining in Europe, WHO report reveals
Seasonal flu vaccination coverage among high-risk groups has fallen in Europe, and just one European country reached the recommended goal of 75% coverage in older people, a study has found. The research also found that half of European countries reported a decrease in the number of vaccines available.
Burden of disease
14-year-old girl dies after getting the flu
A freshman at a California high school has died after contracting the flu, CBS Los Angeles reports. A spokesperson from the all-girls Catholic school would not confirm whether the flu had spread to other students, or potentially how many. According to the Ventura County Star newspaper, health officials say 35 people died of the flu in Ventura County so far this season. Of the victims, only six were under the age of 65.
Flu Is Causing 1 in 10 American Deaths and Climbing
In the U.S., the levels of influenza-like illnesses being reported now are as high as the peak of the swine flu epidemic in 2009, and exceed the last severe seasonal flu outbreak in 2003 when a new strain started circulating, said Anne Schuchat, the U.S. CDC’s acting director. The agency reported another 10 deaths among children this season, bringing the total to 63 so far. Half had no other medical conditions that would place them in the high-risk category, and only about 20 percent were vaccinated.
Texas Teacher Contracts Both Strains Of Influenza, Put On Life Support
In Texas, a woman named Crystal Whitley, 35, is on life support after contracting both strains of the flu virus (H1N1 and H3N2), ABC-affiliated WFAA reported. Despite getting a flu shot in October after giving birth to her youngest son, Whitley still contracted the flu that has so far claimed the lives of several people across the country.
The flu continues to spread across Germany
Sudden high fever, dry cough, headache and a strong sense of illness: the flu is spreading among the people in Germany. Last week, doctors reported 15,188 cases to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) that diagnosed the virus in the lab. Thus, the number of sufferers reached by far the highest value since the onset of the flu epidemic in December, as shown by the current weekly report of the RKI . In twelve percent of cases, the patients had to go to the hospital. In addition, outbreaks were reported in schools and kindergartens, hospitals and rehabilitation centers last week. The number of deaths has risen to 70 since December. Four out of five were at least 60 years old. In addition, however, there were also several deaths in infants .
Reported deaths break record: Influenza continues to hammer Oklahoma
With new cases being added every day, influenza is debilitating many Oklahomans and their families, leaving businesses short-handed and schools forced to close due to rampant sickness. Health officials say 15 flu-related deaths have occurred among people aged 18 to 49, but that most of this season’s flu-related fatalities have occurred among people 50 or older, including 89 victims who were 65 or older. So far, there have been no reported deaths for anyone 17 or younger in Oklahoma.
Flu activity rising in West Virginia
State health officials say flu activity in West Virginia has increased overall for the sixth consecutive week. Influenza-related hospitalization rates for the season have skyrocketed. West Virginia has had two pediatric flu-related deaths. There have been 53 pediatric deaths nationwide.
Italy looks like it has passed the peak of the flu epidemic
Health data is starting to suggest the flu has peaked in terms of the number of cases in Italy, even if in the South due to the cold season arriving a little later than normal the flu seasons could still be prolonged in this region. Data reported by health authorities in Veneto and elsewhere, indicate that the level of new flu cases is beginning to decrease, a sign that Italy may be about to see a steady decrease in numbers as they fall in coming weeks
Fifteen flu deaths likely just the tip of the iceberg, health officials say
At least 15 people have died from the flu in Ottawa this winter, but public health officials say that is likely just a fraction of the actual number. Given changes to the way flu is being tracked and reported in the province this year, more timely numbers are not available.The deaths were among hundreds of people who became ill with flu-like symptoms during outbreaks at long-term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals across the city.
Flu-related deaths in California surpass 150 as worst season in years continues its toll
New influenza cases are dropping across California, but deaths continue to rise in the Golden State as this season’s mighty wave of flu maintains its grip locally and on the nation, state health officials announced Friday. Last week, 36 more people in California died of flu-related illnesses, or six more than the week before, making it the deadliest week so far this season. That brought the number of flu-related deaths to 163 statewide, but doesn’t include those who are 65 years old or older, according to the latest data released by the California Department of Public Health.
Flu Surveillance in Animals
Avian Flu in the Vendee: 12,000 ducks culled
Tests carried out on a duck farm in the Vendee region of France have shown the presence of bird flu and 12,000 ducks were culled as a precautionary measure
IFA urges farmers to keep poultry under cover after bird flu found in wild bird
In Ireland, farmers are being advised to keep poultry inside or under cover after avian flu was found in the wild. The H5N6 strain was found on January 31 in a wild bird in Tipperary. The IFA's Poultry Chairperson, Andy Boylan, says strict bio-security measures need to be put in place, with birds kept inside or undercover.
First case of infectious bird flu confirmed in Co Tipperary
A white-tailed sea eagle found dead in Co Tipperary was carrying the only case detected in Ireland so far of a highly infectious strain of bird flu, it has been confirmed. The Department of Agriculture said that tests had shown the type of avian flu found in the dead bird was a “highly pathogenic” strain previously confirmed in Britain and mainland Europe.