[SaneVax: Face it – last year’s flu pandemic was a flop: mild disease, few mortalities, minimal fear – and low flu vaccine uptake. Not to be discouraged, international health authorities have come up with a novel idea, pre-pandemic vaccines. According to their convoluted logic, pharmaceutical companies should take advantage of their increased flu vaccine manufacturing capabilities to create shots for flu variants that may never develop. This idea stems from the recent discovery that bird flu (H5N1) is but three mutations away from becoming a threat to all of humanity. No one seems to care that those mutations could happen during the next year, decade, century, or never. Prevailing ‘wisdom’ says we should be afraid and be vaccinated – just in case.]
Analysis: Bird flu vaccine now? More than a shot in the dark
By Kate Kelland and Ben Hirschler
LONDON (Reuters) – Culls of hundreds of thousands of chickens, turkeys and ducks to stem bird flu outbreaks rarely make international headlines these days, but they are a worryingly common event as the deadly virus continues its march across the globe.
As scientists delve deeper into H5N1 avian influenza, they have discovered it is only three steps way from mutating into a potentially lethal human pandemic form, adding new urgency to a debate over how to protect humans.
In 2009, during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, vaccines only became available months after the virus had spread around the world – and even then there was only enough for one in five of the world’s 7 billion people.
Next time, experts say, we need another approach.
Talk is centered on “pre-pandemic vaccination” – immunizing people years in advance against a flu pandemic that has yet to happen, and may never come, rather than rushing to create vaccines once a new pandemic starts.