Desi swine flu vaccine ready for commercial use by April-May


NEW DELHI: Pune-based Serum India’s swine flu vaccine ‘Fluvac’ will be ready for commercial use by April-May, subject to all regulatory clearances. The Pune-based company received the drug regulators go-ahead on March 5 to carry out advanced safety tests on the vaccine —Phase II/III clinical trials crucial for its introduction in the market.

On Monday, it started clinical trials of nasal form of vaccine on 300 subjects at different locations around the country. After Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila, Serum Institute becomes the second company to have started Phase II/III trials, pushing it closer to the finishing line.

“The single dose vaccine will be available in two forms —nasal spray and as an injectable. The inhalation vaccine uses a live virus, which will be administered to three age groups. Further trials will be carried out later to test safety of the injectable vaccine on another set of people”, Serum Institute of India’s executive director S Jadhav told TOI.

The age group on which these trials will be administered is 9-19 years, 20-48 years and 48 and above. A single dose of the vaccine developed with egg-based technology will be initially tested in four cities across the country. The vaccine developed by indigenous players will most likely be administered as a single dose, and priced around Rs 150-200, sources close to the development said. (H1N1 vaccine globally cost between $9-15)

Swine flu hits 57 million Americans, kills 17,000

IT STINGS: A toddler gets a swine flu vaccine injection at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The infection proved virulent in America

The deadly H1N1 influenza virus, also known as swine flu, may have affected more than 57 million Americans and killed as many as 17,000 of them, according to new official estimates.

Though 2,498 confirmed deaths linked to the H1N1 virus had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta as of January 30, the agency estimates that between 8,330 and 17,160 people actually have died from H1N1.

The overwhelming majority of the people who died – between 6,390 and 13,170 – were 18 to 64 years old, according to the CDC estimates released Friday. Between 880 and 1,810 children 17 years old and younger also died from this flu, it estimated.

In comparison, the CDC says that in a regular flu season, about 36,000 people in the United States die from seasonal flu, with 90 percent of the deaths usually occurring in people age 65 and older.

While the new figures show the H1N1 pandemic virus is still spreading, they also reflect a slowdown in the transmission of the illnesses since last October. The CDC had last estimated about 55 million Americans had been sickened, 246,000 were hospitalised and about 11,100 had died through mid-December.

While health officials have yet to declare the end of the influenza pandemic, a new round of widespread illness is increasingly unlikely now that a substantial portion of the American population has been either sickened by or vaccinated against the H1N1 pandemic virus. About 70 million people have been vaccinated.

In a separate weekly report of H1N1 influenza activity, the CDC said most influenza strains circulating as of Feb 6 are the H1N1 strain and not strains that cause seasonal influenza.

As of Feb 6, the majority of states reported “sporadic” transmission of the H1N1 virus, the CDC said. However, the CDC said doctor visits for influenza-like illnesses increased slightly over the previous week but “remain low overall.”

9 more swine flu deaths in India, toll goes up to 1044

Nine more people have died of influenza A (H1N1) in India, increasing the toll due to the swine flu pandemic in the country so far to 1044, an official statement said here today.

 Four of the deaths – two each in Gujarat and Rajasthan – were reported during the day today, it said.

 Besides, reports of five deaths that occurred in recent days – four in Karnataka and one in Himachal Pradesh – were received today from the health authorities of the states concerned, the statemet from the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said.

 Of the total swine flu deaths in the country so far, Maharashtra now accounts for 284, while 158 lives have been lost in Rajasthan, 144 in Gujarat, 137 in Karnataka, 83 in Delhi, 52 in Andhra Pradesh, 35 in Punjab, 34 in Kerala, 33 in Haryana, 16 in Uttar Pradesh, 13 in Uttarakhand, 12 in Madhya Pradesh, 8 each in Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh, 7 in Tamil Nadu, 6 in Puducherry, 5 in Goa, 3 in Orissa, 2 each in Jammu & Kashmir and Chhattisgarh and 1 each in Assam and Mizoram.

 Meanwhile, 88 new cases of swine flu were reported from different parts of India today, including 23 in Gujarat, 22 in Delhi, 20 in Maharashtra, 8 in Uttar Pradesh, 5 in Rajasthan, 4 each in Karnataka and Haryana and 1 each in Assam and Tamil Nadu,

 With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported in the country so far has gone up to 27,610, the statement added.

Tamiflu-resistant swine flu cluster in U.S

IS IT ENOUGH: A file picture of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu. A cluster of patients has already developed resistance to the drug in the US

 Four North Carolina patients at a single hospital tested positive for a type of swine flu that is resistant to the medication Tamiflu, said health officials on Friday.

The cases reported at the Duke University Medical Center over six weeks make up the biggest cluster seen so far in the U.S.

Tamiflu – made by Switzerland’s Roche Group – is one of two flu medicines that help against swine flu, and health officials have been closely watching for signs that the virus is mutating, making the drugs ineffective.

More than 50 resistant cases have been reported in the world since April, including 21 in the U.S.

Almost all in the United States were isolated, said officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cipla launches drug to treat H1N1 virus

  MUMBAI (Reuters) – Drug maker Cipla Ltd on Wednesday launched its generic version of Roche’s Tamiflu, used in the treatment of the H1N1 swine flu virus, the firm said in a statement.

 Cipla’s Oseltamivir brand, called Antiflu, will cost 475 rupees for 10 capsules, with 75 ml syrup will be similarly priced.

 Cipla’s drug is also pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation.

  (For more news on Reuters Money visit )







A nasal spray to boost your memory


THROUGH THE NOSE: An 11-year-old receiving H1N1 Influenza vaccine as a nasal spray in Miami. German scientists have developed a spray which they say will enhance short term memory

 A new nasal spray boosts short-term memory while you sleep, according to a team of German scientists at a sleep research lab.

In a research report in The FASEB Journal, the researchers show that a molecule from the body’s immune system (interleukin-6) when administered through the nose helps the brain retain emotional and procedural memories during REM sleep.

“Here, we provide the first evidence that the immunoregulatory signal interleukin-6 plays a beneficial role in sleep-dependent formation of long-term memory in humans,” writes Dr Lisa Marshall, co-author of the study, from the Department of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Luebeck in Germany.

Marshall and her team of scientists had 17 healthy young men spend two nights in the laboratory. On each night after reading either an emotional or neutral short story, they sprayed a fluid into their nostrils which contained either interleukin-6 or a placebo fluid.

The subsequent sleep and brain electric activity was monitored throughout the night.

The next morning subjects wrote down as many words as they could remember from each of the two stories. Those who received the dose of IL-6 could remember more words.

“If a nasal spray can improve memory, perhaps we’re on our way to giving some folks a whiff of common sense, such as accepting the realities of evolution,” wrote Dr Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal.

“This is an exciting piece of interdisciplinary science since IL-6 had previously been considered a by-product of inflammation, not an agent that affects cognition.”

Dirty hands of docs, nurses act as germ superspreaders


Doctors and nurses who don’t wash their hands act as “superspreaders” of swine flu and other germs, a new research said.

Researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, found that “the dirty hands of doctors and nurses act as germ superspreaders and cause more infections.”

The scientists led by Didier Guillemot created a mathematical model of a hypothetical intensive care unit (ICU) and they found that staff, who saw all patients briefly, were better at spreading germs than those who tended a few patients very closely.

If just one of the former always failed to wash their hands, it caused more infections than if the entire staff forgot one-quarter of the time, journal ‘New Scientist’ said.

Hospitals use the consumption of hand-hygiene products to monitor hand-washing, says team member Laura Temime of the National Conservatory of Arts and Trades in Paris.

“Our study suggests individual surveillance of hand hygiene would be better,” Temime added.

Global swine flu toll rises to over 5,700: WHO


Thousands of people line up to get the H1N1 vaccine at Metro Hall in Toronto on Friday Oct. 30, 2009.

Canada has 50 million doses of the vaccine ordered for the population of 33 million More than 700 people have died of swine flu this week, raising the number of fatalities from the viral disease to 5,712 worldwide, Xinhua reported citing the UN health agency on Friday. Of all the deaths, 4,175 occurred in the Americas, 605 occurred in South-East Asia and 465 occurred in the West Pacific.

 Europe, East Mediterranean and Africa reported 281, 111 and 75 deaths respectively, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a latest update on Friday.

The WHO, which declared the swine flu as a pandemic in June, said the total number of lab confirmed cases worldwide is now over 441,661, but this case count is significantly lower than the actual number of cases that have occurred, because many countries have stopped testing and reporting individual cases. In the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, influenza transmission continues to intensify marking an unusually early start to winter influenza season in some countries, the UN agency said.

Narendra Modi tests positive for swine flu


Modi, who had showed symptoms of cough, cold and fever, had insisted on the H1N1 test.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who returned from abroad two days back, tested positive for swine flu on Friday, a doctor attending on him said. Samples of Mr. Modi were taken for test on Thursday after he showed symptoms of cough, cold and fever, Atul Patel, one of the four doctors in the team looking after the Chief Minister, said. The results came this morning, the doctor said, adding Mr. Modi had insisted on the H1N1 test. Mr. Modi, who returned from Russia on Wednesday, will be kept in isolation for seven days at his residence, where a team of doctors are attending on him. “No cause for worry” “There is no cause for any concern regarding the health of the Chief minister and he is responding to treatment,” Mr. Modi’s doctor said. The Chief Minister had on Thursday attended office at the State Secretariat, chaired a cabinet meeting and met officers and received visitors till late in the evening. Later, his fever increased and he decided to cancel all official programmes and take the swine flu test.

Concerns about H1N1 vaccine safety snowball in Germany


Concerns about the safety of H1N1 vaccine in Germany has snowballed and appears to derail the vaccination programme.

Only about 12 per cent of people have expressed their willingness to be vaccinated and another 19 per cent have indicated that they would probably have the vaccine.

The controversy is about the use of adjuvant in H1N1 vaccine. Adjuvant is a substance that is added to the vaccine to improve body’s response, and its use will reduce the amount of inactivated virus needed for an effective dose.

What started as concerns expressed by a few physicians about the safety of vaccine containing an adjuvant has now become a major issue.

Michael Kochen, President of the German College of General Practitioners and Family Physicians was quoted as saying in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that “Pandemrix [H1N1 vaccine containing an adjuvant] has not been sufficiently tested to be declared safe for millions of people, especially small children and pregnant women.”

He has apparently told BMJ that he will not take the vaccine and has also advised other doctors not to take it. Pandemrix is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

But what made things worse was a report by Der Spiegel magazine that the Federal Interior Ministry had bought 2,00,000 doses of Celvapan, an adjuvant-free vaccine to be used by top government officials. Celvapen is manufactured by Baxter.

The Defence Ministry had later confirmed the procurement of Celvapen, and according to BMJ, it was intended for use by Bundeswehr soldiers and their families on foreign deployments or preparing for missions abroad.

The German Medical Association has now advised against giving the adjuvant vaccine to children and pregnant women.

However, the World Health Organisation recommends the use of an adjuvant as it would increase the number of people who can be vaccinated. The European Medicines Agency had cleared Pandemrix and Celvapen for H1N1 vaccination.

Pandemrix was also approved for use by Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute, which advises the government on vaccination matters. However, the Federal Vaccination Agency, another government body, has contradicted the institute and has advised against the use of vaccines containing adjuvant.

Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, Chairman of the German Medical Association’s Drug Commission had described the swine flu vaccination programme as a “scandal.” According to BMJ, Dr. Ludwig thinks that Pandemrix has not been adequately tested. However, he thinks the same about Baxter’s adjuvant-free H1N1 vaccine Celvapan, too.

GlaxoSmithKline in a press release dated October 23 announced that more than 150,000 people had received Pandemrix, as part of government initiated vaccination programmes across Europe. Additionally, over 2,000 people have received Pandemrix in clinical trials which are ongoing. The company has not raised any safety concerns about its product.

CT scans better than X-rays for in H1N1 patients

Washington: A new study has found that computed tomography (CT) scans can be more useful than standard radiography (X-rays) in detecting the severity of disease in patients with the H1N1 virus.
Reports of seven patients with the H1N1 virus who underwent both tests were assessed to reach the conclusion that CT scans were more effective. Amr M. Ajlan, M.D., lead author of the study, said: “All patients with CT abnormalities showed abnormal findings on the corresponding chest X-rays.
“However, the extent of involvement was more diffuse and the distribution of disease was better characterized on CT.” He added: “The strength of our study is that all CT scans performed showed a similar distribution of abnormalities, which might help physicians prospectively diagnose H1N1 using medical imaging.
“Most cases of H1N1 are mild and self-limited; however, high-risk patients are more likely to have severe complications. Our study suggests that CT is superior to standard chest X-rays and should be the imaging modality of choice in high-risk patients.”
The study will be published in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology but has already been published online.

H1N1 vaccine still far away

HYDERABAD: There is little chance of the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine becoming available in the State anytime soon.

Though it was being administered to vulnerable sections in USA and other places, the vaccine was still far away as human trials were yet to begin here, said Principal Secretary (Health) L.V. Subrahmanyam on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Subrahmanyam pointed out that the vaccine being administered abroad was a long term one but had to be administered annually.

The cost of each vaccine vial was said to be hovering between Rs. 300-500.

“The Centre has advised all States to keep the cold chain ready. We have it as part of the pulse polio immunisation programme. The first priority for administering the vaccine is for health providers but it is difficult to guess about when it could be available,” he said.

‘Second wave’

But, at the same time he claimed that the government was better equipped to tackle any fresh onslaught of the flu since the ‘second wave’ of H1N1 flu had hit Mexico and other nations.

“We are maintaining surveillance and screening at the airports are continuing. The virus is already here and no imports are needed,” he said.

Better equipped

Mr. Subrahmanyam said the government was now better equipped with more laboratories, more beds, adequate medicines and training given to health personnel to tackle the flu.

Swine flu medicines at Apollo Pharmacy

Apollo Pharmacy has received licence from Drug Controller General of India for retail sale of Oseltamivir, a drug for treatment of H1N1 Influenza, a press note informed. The pharmacy has launched helplines across the country to assist in swine flu medicine procurement and better diseases management. For details contact 040-60602424.

Two swine flu deaths – India

New Delhi: A health ministry official said two swine flu deaths were reported in the country on Monday.

Two swine flu deaths

The official said as many as 93 fresh cases of H1N1 were reported across the country Monday. Among the states, Kerala reported the maximum of 33 cases, followed by 18 in Tamil Nadu, 16 in Karnataka and 10 cases in Delhi.

One death was reported from Pune while the other was reported from Solan in Himachal Pradesh.

A suspected swine flu death was reported from Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh but health officials are still reviewing the case, the official said.

However, Maharashtra continues to top the cumulative infection tally (among states) with 3,472 influenza A (H1N1) cases followed by Delhi (3,271 cases).

Animal trials for H1N1 vaccine begins

New Delhi: India’s hope for a H1N1 vaccine has got a shot in the arm with the Serum Institute of India beginning animal trials, a prelude to the much tougher human trials. Around 500 doses of the vaccine will be administered over 40 to 50 days. All clinical trials are expected to end by February. — PTI

.WHO says H1N1 vaccine safe, urges mass take-up



who says h1n1 vaccine safe urges mass take up

A vial of Influenza A (H1N1) monovalent vaccine and a labelled packaging are pictured prior…


The World Health Organisation (WHO) restated its confidence in the H1N1 flu vaccine on Tuesday, calling it the most important tool against the pandemic.

Mild adverse side effects such as muscle cramps or headache are to be expected in some cases, but everyone who has access to the vaccine should be inoculated, it said.

Mass vaccination campaigns against the swine flu virus are underway in China and Australia and will be starting soon in the United States and parts of Europe, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

“It is important to remember that the vaccines, which have already been approved, have been used for years and years and years in their seasonal vaccine formulation and have been shown to be among the safest vaccines that exist,” he told a news briefing.

Hartl, asked whether WHO was concerned by reports that some people were reluctant to be injected with the new vaccine, said:

“Certainly we have seen the reports. Again, we would restate that the most important tool that we have to fight this pandemic is the vaccine.”

It was doubly important that health care workers be vaccinated, as it protects them as well as patients, he added.

“We would hope that everyone who has a chance to get vaccinated does get vaccinated,” Hartl told Reuters.

The United Nations agency declared in June that the H1N1 virus was causing an influenza pandemic and its collaborating laboratories have provided seed virus to drug makers worldwide to develop vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline won a further 22 government orders for its H1N1 swine flu vaccine in the last two months, taking the total number of doses ordered to 440 million worth some $3.5 billion.

Rivals in flu vaccines include Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Baxter, AstraZeneca and CSL.

.Drop in number of swine flu cases



Health officials ask people to continue taking precautions

Dry and cold spells lead to spread of H1N1 virus

Of the 112 samples tested, 11 found to be positive

HYDERABAD: The swine flu cases continued to dip in the State even as one more person, D. Satyanarayana Goud (35), died at Gandhi Hospital, authorities confirmed. On Saturday, out of 112 samples tested, 11 persons were found to be swine flu positive while the death toll, according to health authorities, has now surged to 37.

The victim, who died on Saturday at Gandhi Hospital, had a history of heart ailments and was a patient of rheumatoid arthritis, officials said.

The deceased needed ventilator support and was referred to Gandhi Hospital from Chest Hospital. The patient was sent to Chest Hospital from Kamineni Hospital, authorities confirmed.

Meanwhile, number of patients at the outpatient department of Osmania, Gandhi and Chest Hospitals continued to decrease on Saturday. Chest Hospital received only 15 patients while Osmania and Gandhi Hospitals together received 50 patients with swine flu like symptoms.

Authorities have again requested general public to continue taking precautions because the dry and cold spell, which will follow the rains, would be ideal for the H1N1 virus to thrive.

‘Be wary’

“Once rains subside, people will start venturing outside and again the virus will start transmitting. Public should be wary and take precautions,” swine flu State coordinator Dr. K. Subhakar.

Meanwhile, at Care Hospitals, a woman underwent angioplasty and later on the hospital doctors detected that she had swine flu.

As a result, the whole angioplasty unit consisting of doctors, paramedics, nurses and other staff who took part in the procedure are undergoing prophylaxis treatment for swine flu.

As a precaution, the operation theatre where the surgery took place had to be shutdown for a day.

.H1N1: high level of alertness needed

HYDERABAD: With the second wave of H1N1 pandemic becoming active in Mexico, United States and Europe, health authorities on Thursday asserted that there is a need to maintain high level of alertness and preparedness in the State. An awareness rally on swine flu was flagged-off by Minister for Danam Nagendar from Gandhi Hospital to Bholakpur on Thursday. Over 2,000 persons, mostly consisting of nursing students, ASHA and ANM workers, self-help groups, NGOs and doctors participated in the rally. The rally was followed by a mega health camp, inaugurated by Musheerabad MLA M. Manemma, in which 4,692 persons were screened for various ailments.

About 14,851 doses of Homoeopathy medicine for prevention of H1N1 were distributed.

Nursing students and members of various NGOs took up house to house activity in Secunderabad area to spread awareness on swine flu among slum settlements. Authorities informed that 25,000 households were contacted and 34,680 chlorine tablets were distributed among them.

.New masks to prevent H1N1 virus




HYDERABAD: Boldness is a mask for fear. But it wouldn’t help against a virulent disease. With the swine flu scare in air, masks are up for grabs. But how safe are they? Here is a new protective gear, which promises to provide the best line of defence against the H1N1 virus.

Made of patented barrier fabric imported from North Carolina, USA, it is treated with microbe shield for anti-bacteria properties. It is also given Teflon treatment for fluid repellence and easy soil release.

While the masks available in the market have a pore size of more than 15 to 20 microns, this one has just 3 micron size.

“Viruses can still attack but this antibacterial mask offers a higher degree of protection than what is available in the market”, claims P.V. Ravi Kumar, director, Plus Ventilation.

A city based company, the Plus Ventilation is manufacturing clean room apparel for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, electronics and health care industry. The full length overall complete with hood and booties comes for Rs.4,000 and is more useful for healthcare workers who are in close contact with patients afflicted with HINI virus or HIV.

This protective outfit is already being used in the operation theatres by the Tata Cancer Institute, Mumbai, Kasturba Hospital, Manipal and Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai. Closer home companies like Virchow Biotech, Bharat Biotech, UNI-Sankyo Ltd are using the special garment.

For the general public, the Plus Ventilation is offering the antibacterial mask for Rs.100. The best thing about it is that it can be rinsed in hot water and reused.

“Even after 150 times of washing it will not lose its properties”, says Mr. Kumar.

What’s more it is non-sticky and non-absorbing. Even if a glass of water is poured into it, it doesn’t percolate.

At the same time it offers better air permeability for two-wheeler riders and others. If infected persons wear, the mask gives good protection against secondary infections, it is said.

The masks come in white, light and dark blue colours. They can be had from Plus Ventilation office in S.R. Nagar. Mr. Kumar can be reached on phone 9849025807