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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

“Raise vaccination rates”, Gates says to health leaders

By |May 17, 2011|Health Promotion, Vaccination|

Full Story at CBC News

Bill Gates will have the attention of most of the world’s health ministers on Tuesday, when he plans to share one main message: Get your vaccination rates up. Gates is pushing to get countries to increase vaccination rates as an easy, low-cost way to protect their populations. He is scheduled to give the keynote address at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

“Every percentage point you increase from where we are now to that goal you’re talking about hundreds of children who don’t die and thousands of children who don’t get sick in a way that prevents their brain from developing fully,” he said.

During Tuesday’s speech, Gates will highlight strong results from a new meningitis vaccine in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, where last year there were 66 cases in the first four months. This year the country has seen only one case. A “meningitis belt” runs through Burkina Faso, Chad, Nigeria and Niger. But the new vaccine, which is being given to infants and adults, has shown strong results so far.

“It’s a success story,” Gates said. “For people who live in the meningitis belt the kind of fear and seeing the kids who are made deaf because of it they see it as a huge breakthrough. People immediately come and get this vaccine because they have such a fear of the disease.”

Should last remaining known smallpox virus die?

By |March 8, 2011|Virus|

Source Washington Post

More than three decades after smallpox was eradicated, an international struggle has reemerged with new intensity about whether to destroy the only known specimens of the virus that causes one of the worst scourges to plague humanity.

Some public health authorities, infectious disease specialists and national security experts maintain that the time has come to finally autoclave hundreds of vials of the pathogen held in two high-security government labs in the United States and Russia.

“We feel the world would be safer without having these stocks in existence. Why risk it escaping and resurging again?” said Lin Li Ching, a researcher at the Third World Network, an international research and advocacy group based in Malaysia.

But the U.S. and Russian governments, which have repeatedly delayed incinerating the samples, are fighting for another stay of execution. Scientists need the living virus, they say, to make a better vaccine and finish developing the first treatments just in case the deadly microbe is somehow unleashed again – by accident, by a bioterrorist or by re-creating it from the computerized records of its DNA sequences.

Read More…

MMR Doctor Struck From Register

By |May 24, 2010|News|

Source BBC News

The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism is to be struck off the medical register.

The General Medical Council found Dr Andrew Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct over the way he carried out his controversial research. It follows a GMC ruling earlier this year that he had acted unethically. Dr Wakefield, who is now based in the US, has consistently claimed the allegations are unfair. He now says he will appeal against the verdict.

His 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles – but the findings were later discredited. The GMC ruled in January Dr Wakefield had acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in conducting his research, but under its procedures the sanctions are made at a later date. The case did not investigate whether Dr Wakefield’s findings were right or wrong, instead it focused on the methods of research. (more…)