Saturday, 2 May 2009

WHO broke its own rule

"The WHO alert level is at five on a scale of six, with six being
considered a full-scale pandemic.

WHO has noted human-to-human transmission so far appeared to be
confined to North America. To move to level six, WHO would have to
observe human-to-human transmission in at least two global regions."

It was confirmed that 2 cases of human-human spread of this Swine Flu
had occurred in UK by last friday, 1st May, and yet WHO has not
upgraded its pandemic level to 6, the highest.

May WHO thought that UK is similar to the Americas. Maybe WHO thought
that UK can handle this pandemic better.

Despite the hiccup in not giving Tamilflu to those in contact with
probables for less than an hour, UK has ample supply of Tamilflu.

We have to wait for the cases in India where there are only 1 million
doses of Tamilflu for a population of 1000 million.
As the number of cases of human swine flu in Canada climbed to 51,
Canada's chief public health officer expressed optimism that the
outbreak might turn out to be relatively mild.

And a new poll suggests Canadians, for the most part, are staying

The Ipsos Reid poll, conducted exclusively for Canwest News Service
and Global National, says fewer than half of those surveyed, 47 per
cent, said they are "somewhat" or "very much" concerned that they or
someone in their family might contract swine flu over the coming weeks
or months.

Eight in ten - 81 per cent - have confidence federal Health Minister
Leona Aglukkaq is taking the right steps to deal with swine flu's
spread, and most supported the actions of their local hospitals and
health officials.

"I think what this poll says is that no one's panicked out there,"
said John Wright, senior vice president at Ipsos Reid Public Affairs.
"I don't want to downplay this, but I think the reality is that a lot
of Canadians are looking at this in a very pragmatic, sensible

The poll suggests Canadians have given a vote of confidence to public
officials, he said.

"There's nobody who receives poor marks."

Canadian public health officials confirmed 17 new cases Friday: one in
New Brunswick, the province's first; six in Nova Scotia; four in
Ontario; two in Alberta and four in B.C. The new cases brought
Canada's total to 51.

Like the others before it, the new cases are considered mild and the
patients are expected to recover.

Despite the new cases, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. David Butler-
Jones said there are several encouraging signs that suggest the
outbreak might not be a catastrophic pandemic on the scale of the 1918
Spanish flu.

"We don't know exactly where it's going to go, but what gives me short-
term optimism is that we're at the end of what would be normally flu
season, so the chances are that this will die down over the summer,"
said Butler-Jones.

That would buy time to develop a vaccine and do more planning, "so
that whatever we face in the fall, whether it's mild or severe, we're
in a better position to deal with it."

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said Friday researchers had
cleared the first step toward a swine-flu vaccine.

A senior WHO official said they are in negotiations with a "few dozen"
manufacturers worldwide to arrange production of a vaccine, although
she cautioned it could take four to six months for the first doses to
be produced.

"Unless really there is very soon a signal that (the spread of the
outbreak) might not continue, it seems mostly likely that the
manufacturers will proceed," said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director
of the Initiative for Vaccine Research.

Butler-Jones said negotiations were also continuing between the
Canadian government and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, the drug
manufacturer that has agreed to supply Canada with a vaccine. "We're
in a good position, once things are in place, to move forward," said

Kieny said researchers have identified the virus in their
laboratories, the first stage toward vaccine production.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
other research centres worldwide are currently "tweaking" the virus so
samples can be turned into a vaccine, a process that should conclude
in mid- to late May.

Manufacturers would then further adapt the virus to their production
methods, grow the virus in eggs so it can be harvested in large
quantities, then design a formulation to be administered to human

The vaccine would also have to undergo human clinical trials and
receive approval from state regulatory authorities worldwide.

Although the number of confirmed cases continued to increase around
the world, WHO gave no indication Friday it would raise its pandemic
alert level.

The WHO alert level is at five on a scale of six, with six being
considered a full-scale pandemic.

WHO has noted human-to-human transmission so far appeared to be
confined to North America. To move to level six, WHO would have to
observe human-to-human transmission in at least two global regions.

"We are very aware of the situation, but qualitatively the situation
has not changed," said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl.

Canadian officials said a national "citizen readiness" campaign
educating Canadians on basic precautions against the flu will kick off
Saturday with advertisements in newspapers across the country.
Information will also be disseminated through Facebook, YouTube and

"I think Canadians agree that we need to take every precaution
possible," Aglukkaq said.

Meghan Cumby, a spokeswoman for the New Brunswick Department of
Health, said a woman in her 20s who had recently travelled to
southeastern Mexico had contracted the new flu strain. The woman did
not require hospitalization, Cumby said.

Four more cases of swine flu have been reported in Ontario, bringing
the total in that province to 12. Two lived in Toronto, the other two
in Durham, and all were considered mild cases.

In Alberta, health officials said a young woman who had been
travelling in Mexico, and a middle-aged woman who had been travelling
in Tennessee, had contracted the flu.

The B.C. government said it had confirmed four more cases, bringing
the province's total to 15. B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said the
cases are mild and the patients are recovering.

Vancouver's Killarney secondary school sent a note to parents Friday
notifying them that a student tested positive for the flu. The school
will remain open, as public health officials have determined the risk
to others is "very low."

All the new Nova Scotian cases are mild and are connected to an
outbreak at King's-Edgehill School in Windsor, a government official

Globally, 15 countries have now reported cases of swine flu, with
China, France and Denmark confirming cases Friday. The new cases
brought the global total to 615.

Hong Kong officials identified a traveller from Mexico as the first
confirmed case in Asia.

Mexico has been hardest hit by the outbreak, with 176 deaths believed
to be linked to the strain. The country has 397 confirmed cases of
human infection, a news release from WHO said early Saturday.

However, Mexican officials expressed some optimism Friday the outbreak
there appeared to be stabilizing. Mexican authorities said they were
encouraged by the fact the rate of new cases emerging was falling.

Mexico was all but shut down Friday, after Mexican President Felipe
Calderon asked residents to stay home during the Cinco de Mayo holiday
from May1 to May 5.

He has also urged Mexican businesses to close.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection
on Friday raised the country's number of confirmed cases to 141. There
has been one confirmed death in the U.S., a toddler from Mexico City
who was found dead in Texas.

Health officials continue to remind the public the seasonal flu is
also responsible for making thousands of people sick and for killing
an average of 4,000 Canadians every year. Normally, fewer than 0.1 per
cent of people with influenza die, if they have no underlying medical

The Ipsos Reid poll found 15 per cent of those surveyed said they were
"very much" concerned with catching swine flu, while 33 per cent said
they are "somewhat" concerned. Only in Atlantic Canada is a majority
(55 per cent) concerned about contracting swine flu.

For the survey, a randomly selected sample of 1,001 adults were
interviewed by phone from April 29 to April 30. With a sample this
size, results are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points,
19 times out of 20.

With files from Reuters

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