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New data concerning the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine

By |February 22, 2013|Vaccination|

Source Huffington Post

Flu vaccine is not as effective as public health messaging traditionally has claimed, says a new report that suggests overselling of flu shots is getting in the way of developing more effective and longer lasting vaccines.

The project that led to the report was called the CIDRAP Comprehensive Influenza Vaccine Initiative, and it involved mining more than 12,000 documents, articles and meeting transcripts as well as more than 5,700 peer-reviewed vaccine studies published from 1936 through April 2012. The full report can be found here.

In recent years studies by a variety of research groups  have shown that the long-quoted claims that flu shots offered 70 to 90 per cent protection against influenza have been off the mark.

Somewhere in the order of 50 to 60 per cent, in healthy adults, is more accurate, the newer studies suggest. Efficacy rates are lower in the elderly or people in poor health. Vaccine effectiveness in those 65 and older against both influenza A and B was 27% (95% CI, -31% to 59%), and against H3N2 it was 9% (95% CI, -84% to 55%), but both numbers are statistically not significant.

The report suggests that the higher numbers came from old studies done on vaccines that were not formulated the way current shots are. It also suggests that the belief that universal vaccination for flu would be useful and desirable, rather than solid scientific evidence, was what drove decisions to recommend flu shots for all in the U.S. (The study did not look at decisions made in Canada or elsewhere.)

Even the vaccine used in the U.S. during the 2009 pandemic — where there was a perfect match between the virus in the vaccine and the strain infecting people — didn’t offer better protection. Studies cited in the report pegged the U.S. vaccine’s effectiveness at 56 per cent.

A key argument of the report is the fact that the current vaccine that offers moderate protection is actually getting in the way of developing long-lasting flu vaccines that offer more effective protection — vaccines, for example, that might require a shot every five or 10 years. Currently flu shots are reformulated every year to try to keep up with the evolution of flu viruses.

Even though a flu shot is a relatively inexpensive vaccine, manufacturers sell hundreds of millions of doses of them a year. In fact, the report notes that the global market for flu vaccine is estimated at US$2.8 billion — a decent chunk of the estimated US$20 billion annual market for all vaccines combined.

For an interesting article of influenza and the protectiveness of Vitamin D please read On the epidemiology of influenza

WHO to examine its H1N1 response

By |January 18, 2010|Flu|

Source CBC News

The World Health Organization will review accusations it overstated the risks of the H1N1 virus.

The most recent complaints about WHO’s handling of the pandemic came from the Council of Europe, a political forum, where last week parliamentarian Wolfgang Wodarg called H1N1 a “false pandemic.” In November 2009, Dr. Richard Schabas, Ontario’s former chief medical officer of health, referred to it as a “dud pandemic.”

The European concern is that WHO may have overstated the dangers of the pandemic because of pressure from pharmaceutical companies that produce swine flu vaccines. (more…)

Flu Vacine and Asthma

By |May 21, 2009|Research, Uncategorized|

Here’s an except from ScienceDaily.com with the original presentation information;

Children Who Get Flu Vaccine Have Three Times Risk Of Hospitalization For Flu, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (2009-05-20) — The inactivated flu vaccine does not appear to be effective in preventing influenza-related hospitalizations in children, especially the ones with asthma. In fact, children who get the flu vaccine are more at risk for hospitalization than their peers who do not get the vaccine, according to new research. While these findings do raise questions about the efficacy of the vaccine, they do not in fact implicate it as a cause of hospitalizations, according to researchers.

Original presentation made at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference in San Diego, CA (May 15-20, 2009):

Flu Vaccination in Asthmatics: Does It Work?
Am J Respir Crit Care Med 179;2009:A5118

Viruses Can Survive For Centuries or Millenium

By |May 21, 2009|Prevention, Research|

Interesting and timely post on Wired Science yesterday. Virii have been found to remain virulent for centuries, and could potentially for millenium, in the frozen lakes of Siberia. This is likely due to the configuration or “anatomy” of a virus particle. You can read more of the report about a presentation made at the American Society for Microbiology meeting in Philadelphia.

Flu Pandemics May Lurk in Frozen Lakes

On the epidemiology of influenza

By |April 25, 2009|Research|

Source The Virology Journal

Abstract

The epidemiology of influenza swarms with incongruities, incongruities exhaustively detailed by the late British epidemiologist, Edgar Hope-Simpson. He was the first to propose a parsimonious theory explaining why influenza is, as Gregg said, “seemingly unmindful of traditional infectious disease behavioral patterns.” Recent discoveries indicate vitamin D upregulates the endogenous antibiotics of innate immunity and suggest that the incongruities explored by Hope-Simpson may be secondary to the epidemiology of vitamin D deficiency. We identify – and attempt to explain – nine influenza conundrums: (1) Why is influenza both seasonal and ubiquitous and where is the virus between epidemics? (2) Why are the epidemics so explosive? (3) Why do they end so abruptly? (4) What explains the frequent coincidental timing of epidemics in countries of similar latitude? (5) Why is the serial interval obscure? (6) Why is the secondary attack rate so low? (7) Why did epidemics in previous ages spread so rapidly, despite the lack of modern transport? (8) Why does experimental inoculation of seronegative humans fail to cause illness in all the volunteers? (9) Why has influenza mortality of the aged not declined as their vaccination rates increased? We review recent discoveries about vitamin D’s effects on innate immunity, human studies attempting sick-to-well transmission, naturalistic reports of human transmission, studies of serial interval, secondary attack rates, and relevant animal studies. We hypothesize that two factors explain the nine conundrums: vitamin D’s seasonal and population effects on innate immunity, and the presence of a subpopulation of “good infectors.” If true, our revision of Edgar Hope-Simpson’s theory has profound implications for the prevention of influenza.

Read the full text