CNN (August 21, 2009)
"The world will soon see an "explosion" of swine flu cases as the H1N1 virus spreads rapidly around the world, a top World Health Organization official said Friday.
"Spread of the virus is entering an 'acceleration period' and it is certain that there will be more cases and more deaths, said Dr. Shin Young-soo, the organization's regional director for the Western Pacific.
" 'Most countries may see a doubling of cases every three to four days for two months until peak transmission is reached,' he said at a symposium in Beijing, China. 'At a certain point, there will seem to be an explosion in case numbers. I believe it is very likely that all countries will see community-level transmission by the end of the year.'..."
"...'We will only be safe when we have applied these lessons in every country dealing with this virus,' [Dr.] Shin [Shin Young-soo, the organization's regional director for the Western Pacific.] said. 'We need to learn quickly since, as I believe, it appears that this pandemic will get worse before the situation gets better.'"
The article gives a pretty good look at where the H1N1/swine flu epidemic is concerned.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has a few words about 'antivirals' -
"Recommended use of antivirals / Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 briefing note 8" WHO (August 21, 2009).
And, about the safety of vaccines -
"Safety of pandemic vaccines / Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 briefing note 6"
WHO (August 6, 2009).
It's All Some Kinda Plot, ApparentlyIf you go to Google and key in these words - swine flu vaccine danger - you'll see links to news, op-ed, and dire warnings about the awful dangers presented: by the vaccine and the dark forces behind it. "Globalization" figured prominently on the samples I glanced at.
Okay: Maybe there is some sort of vast conspiracy going on. (May 8, 2009) Then again, maybe not.
It's possible, although in my view quite unlikely, that the CDC, WHO, and one of those secret organizations that conspiracy-theory buffs like to invoke, is involved in some vast global conspiracy. It's even possible - although wildly unlikely - that space-alien, shape-shifting lizard people are behind the whole thing. (January 14, 2009, in another blog)
But I rather doubt it.
There's a kernel of truth in the claims that the H1N1 flu vaccine may be dangerous. All vaccines are dangerous. The trick is to balance benefit and risk. (May 1, 2009)
Hysteria, No; Common Sense, yesThere's no shortage of op-ed pieces about swine flu / influenza A(H1N1) "hysteria" - which may exist somewhere. I've read about it, but have yet to encounter an example.
Do I have to say it? Hysteria is not a reasonable response to the danger from the current influenza pandemic.
Common sense, yes. It's the same old boring stuff from childhood and hygiene classes: wash your hands; wash your food; don't inhale deeply when someone near you sneezes; don't lick door handles. There's more, but you get the idea.
I don't want to 'feed hysteria' - wherever it is. On the other hand, there's something new to say about swine flu / influenza A (H1N1), and it seemed like a good idea to share it.
About that flu vaccine? I'm at the age where getting a flu vaccine as autumn comes is good sense. I expect to get another one this year. If it includes an edge over this year's H1N1, fine.
Finally: Yes, I know. If it hasn't happened already, in tests, someone who got the new vaccine felt bad later, or maybe even died. That's tragic. But some people are sensitive to some substances.
The swine flu vaccine of 1976 was a case in point. About 1 in 80,0001 people who got the vaccine developed GBS, a very unpleasant condition, and died. (May 1, 2009) If there were no threat of swine flu, it wouldn't make sense to take the vaccine. If the odds of contracting, spreading, and possibly dying from swine flu were more than 1/80,000, taking the vaccine would have made sense.
My guess is that today's swine flu vaccine will be like every other: a tiny percentage of people will be sensitive to it - and there's no way of finding out, without taking the vaccine.
It's not a perfect situation; but it's not a perfect world, either.
List of posts relating to Swine flu 2009; and list of background resources:
- "Swine Flu 2009"
Update (August 23, 2009)
A tip of the hat to lizditz, on Twitter, for the heads-up on this article:
"A Defense of Childhood Influenza Vaccination and Squalene-Containing Adjuvants; Joseph Mercola's 'Dirty Little Secret' "
Science-Based Medicine (August 21, 2009)
I haven't researched the specific assertions made in the article thoroughly: but I think it's worth reading as an example of how to think about benefit/risk ratios and the relative safety of vaccines.
One interesting point is that the SBM article asserts that the rate of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) appearing in people was 1 in 1,000,000. I'd been using a figure of 1 in 100,000 in several posts. (August 23, 2009, April 25, 2009, April 30, 2009, May 1, 2009) So, I had to go back and check my numbers.
And found out that I'd made a mistake - excessive rounding of the numbers.
I'd used as my source a CBS article whose writers couldn't seem to get over the horror of 1976, when a flu pandemic didn't happen - and 500 people came down with GBS. I'm not trivializing their experience: Guillain-Barré syndrome is, to say the least, unpleasant.
And 500 feels like a really big number.
CBS made the mistake of including other numbers in their article. Like 40,000,000 people getting immunized with the demon drug. And 500 coming down with GBS.
Oops - A Correction500 divided by 40,000,000 (or 500/40,000,000) is 0.0000125: Or 1/80,000. I rounded that - arguably too much, to 1 in 100,000. I've revised/corrected the posts, with a footnote leading to this update.
One in 80,000; One in 1,000,000 - What's Going On?It looks to me like SBM didn't take the CBS News numbers, but instead went to "Guillain-Barré Syndrome Following Influenza Vaccination," Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Vol. 292 No. 20, November 24, 2004, by by Penina Haber, MPH; Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH; Fredrick J. Angulo, DVM, PhD; John Iskander, MD, MPH; Sean V. Shadomy, DVM, MPH; Eric Weintraub, MPH; Robert T. Chen, MD, MA.
There's a certain amount of comparing apples and oranges here: the JAMA report didn't use 1976 data. Their study used data from a program that started in 1990. Part of the results:
"...The annual reporting rate decreased 4-fold from a high of 0.17 per 100 000 vaccinees in 1993-1994 to 0.04 in 2002-2003...."
Okay: a midpoint between 0.17/100,000 and 0.04/100,000 is right in the neighborhood of SBM's 1/1,000,000.
Pretty good odds, if the alternative is being open to infection from a potentially deadly disease: with the bonus of knowing you're spreading it to others.