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Swine Flu Vaccine In Production 147

ravjen writes with news that "Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG said they have successfully produced a swine flu vaccine weeks ahead of their expectations. The vaccine was made in cells, rather than grown in eggs as is usually the case with vaccines." This announcement came just a day after the World Health Organization declared H1N1's spread to be a pandemic. The vaccine has not been tested in humans yet, so the first batch is set to be used in clinical trials and pre-clinical testing. If all goes well, the new production method would allow Novartis to get the drug to market in large quantities by this fall. Other drug companies, such as Baxter International, have confirmed that they're in "full-scale production" of H1N1 vaccines as well.
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Swine Flu Vaccine In Production

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 14, 2009 @09:33AM (#28326151)

    well, my wife caught it - sickest I have ever seen her. Most of the week in the hospital in isolation.
    My son had it as well - he just was home from school for the week sleeping. No energy. For a while I really thought I would lose my wife. If this was the "minor" strain, I am scared at what the "experts" say is the upcoming worse strain in the fall.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 14, 2009 @09:51AM (#28326227)

    It's a new strain of the virus that caused the Spanish flu. H1N1 is known to be highly unstable. It has a tendency to pick up genes from other viruses.

    So far, this new strain is milder than a normal yearly influenza virus. But that was also true about the Spanish flu virus, the first two mutations that went around the globe. The third one was highly lethal and, sadly, 100% lethal to pregnant women.

    Look at it this way. Three possibilities:

    1. We might get a huge deadly pandemic now, which could be as lethal as a world war.

    2. Or we may well get a medium deadly pandemic, which also calls for great measures.

    3. Or we may get a mild extra flu, on top of the usual annual flu. If we are so lucky this time, it will have been the best possible exercise for our future defences against the next great deadly pandemic. It's only a matter of time before we are faced with a pandemic with the potential of killing off tens of millions of people worldwide.

    Fingers crossed and knock on wood, etc, etc...

  • Why Why Why?! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by XPeter ( 1429763 ) * on Sunday June 14, 2009 @09:58AM (#28326283) Homepage

    People get the flu EVERY SINGLE YEAR, H1N1 is no different. The WHO and the media make a big deal about this because the drug companies asked for their bailout too. It's quite simple; make the world panic (H1N1 being a pandemic is blasphemous) and everyone asks the pharmacudical companies to start pumping out drugs and the cash starts rolling in. I mean, look how much Novartis's stock has gone up []. Don't feed the pig, please.

    If you want something to panic about, panic about the millions of people each year who die from easily treatable illnesses such as Malaria.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @10:05AM (#28326323)

    Funnily enough even that figure is skewed.

    I was looking at the details about Swine flu the other day, regarding death tolls and that sort of thing.

    Apparently seasonal flu mortality rate is 0.1%, some places said 0.5% but this seems to only be in less trustworthy sources like the general media vs. medical journals and scientific articles etc. which suggest 0.1%.

    Now, worldwide the swine flu mortality rate is 0.47% last time I calculated it (I don't have the numbers to hand now) which is to be fair, at least 4 times higher than that of seasonal flu.

    However, if you examine the situation in Mexico where as of 5th June 97 of the 117 confirmed deaths had occured you'll notice that it's an anomally. The amount of deaths in Mexico is vastly higher in the rest of the world, despite there now being many more cases outside of Mexico than there are in. Why this is could be any number of reasons - poor healthcare, first place hit so they didn't know how to deal with it, lower quality of life in Mexico city and hence people less healthy - who knows, it could be anything. The point is though, that Mexico IS an anomally.

    If you factor Mexico out of the equation (both death rates and infection rates) the mortality rate of Swine flu is drastically lower and really is no worse than that of seasonal flu from a percentage standpoint. In fact, outside of the Americas, despite thousands of cases, no one has died at all.

    But of course, mortality rate as a percentage isn't the full story. There seem to be two other factors suggesting Swine flu is a problem, these are:

    1) The possibility of it mutating to become worse

    2) It's more contagious, so even though the mortality rate as a percentage is lower, more people die because more people get infected

    As for point 1) I really am not going to worry about this, I don't like to worry about something that is merely speculation, plan for it and account for the possibility? yes, worry about it? No. Is there even any evidence it's more likely to become worse than a particular strain seasonal flu? Point 2 is the real issue, because although it's no more lethal, more people are going to die because of the contagious nature of it, that said even this might not be the case, I don't know how contagious seasonal flu is in comparison.

    With Margaret Chan the director of the WHO coming out with such gems as "After all it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic." I've lost a lot of respect for them. Swine flu is undoubtedly a problem but I get the impression the WHO is loving this situation because it's a chance for them to get their names in the news but it's not even the first time - look at all the fear mongering over bird flu and apocalyptic scenarios they told us to expect then, how a bird flu pandemic was inevitable etc. within just a few months at the time, remind me, how did that turn out again?

    I'm more concerned that we've got a case of the boy who cried wolf, even this time round swine flu reporting seems to be less prominent than the H5N1 bird flu was at the time so I wonder if even media outlets have already decided to treat what the WHO say with a bit more scepticism.

    If you want a real apocalyptic scenario then there's the idea that Swine flu both mutates to become worse and is vastly more contagious but personally, I'll file that alongside worrying about global nuclear war and alien invasion. When there's any evidence to suggest we're closer to any of these I'll start worrying or even caring a bit more. Until then, I'll continue living life as always, washing my hands before I eat, after I sneeze and so on as I always have anyway because it's simply good practice if you want to avoid being ill.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @10:38AM (#28326477)

    How do you know what my bias is?

  • by betasam ( 713798 ) <betasam AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @10:52AM (#28326541) Homepage Journal
    Using the new In-Cell growing technique many companies seem to be coming up with vaccines in a shorter period than earlier. Medicinenet has an informative article [] on Flu Vaccines and immunization candidates, and goes on to say why they are required. This is a good read to understand why vaccination is being given importance here. The 1918 "Spanish" Flu epidemic Virus which is very similar to the recent outbreak was re-created in a laboratory in 2005 [] by Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger and colleagues at AFIP. Comparison with Avian flu strains led to the conclusion that Human Flu Virus strains are derived from Avian flu virii.

    Among young people and children Flu vaccines claim to be 70%-90% effective, while this drops down to 30%-40% in people aged over 65 who may have other secondary complications. Hence the scale of vaccination required for the present outbreak (which has been repeatedly noted for not being as lethal as the 1918 Flu strain) may be entirely different covering only those in a risk category. More stress is on drugs that help in combating the Virus in an infected individual. These are usually amino-acid chain suppressors like Tamiflu. There has already been mobilization and distribution [] of the drugs to combat such an outbreak. The WHO has done a recent donation of drugs [] to Nigeria. This is however related to continued support of a H5N1 outbreak since 2006.

    The role and importance of the Vaccines that would be available is not yet certain. It seems that the stress is more on treatment. Insofar stress on prevention without the involvement of Primary Medical care personnel. Only those who suspect infection have been requested to visit quarantine or medical facilities for treatment. The W.H.O's present stand with the Flu Virus has been a direct result of criticism during the second widespread Avian flu H5N1 attack incidents [] in 2006. Attention is being given to Avian Influenza as a pandemic because it leads to complications and secondaries making it difficult to fight other diseases with stronger morbidity. -- No Greater Friend, No Greater Enemy! (Lucius Cornelius Sulla)
  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @11:12AM (#28326627)

    "Why is it people have to turn to some other equally idiotic extreme? Global nuclear was and "alien invasion" have never happened except in movies. Global disease outbreaks including flu that killed millions of people have happened with some regularity for hundreds, if not thousands of years. In all likelihood this whole thing will turn out to be nothing as H1N1 is unlikely to mutate into something more deadly. Putting it in the same category as "alien invasion" is just as stupid as all the fear mongering the media outlets love to do."

    More appropriately, why is it that people have to overreact to what was clearly a non-serious comparison? All you needed to take away from my comment was that swine flu regardless of how likely it is to other major problems is not something I'm going to spend my time worrying about day to day because it's not that big a deal right now. If you take anything more away from it you are simply getting uptight about something that you've strung together yourself. Being equally pedantic though you might want to re-think that argument that nuclear war is unlikely to happen because it's never happened before whilst global pandemics are more likely because they have happened before. The two events are entirely unliked, and the history of nuclear weapons is far too short to start doing a statistical comparison of the two possible events. Nuclear weapons were about 25 years off even being invented when the last serious pandemic occured. FWIW, I do not believe little green men capable of invading our planet even exist.

    "If we're close to a deadly flu outbreak, it's really already too late. We need to start developing techniques to get faster vaccines now, not just before it happens. If this HAD been the real-deal, a several month delay to make the vaccine is just too long. You don't need to sit around and cower in fear or start wearing face masks that likely do nothing. You do need to start thinking about how we should be better prepared."

    Yes, but there are people whose job it is to do that. There's no point worrying the general public about it when there's nothing they personally can do other than be taught good general hygeine measures and sickness prevention measures in the first place such as not going into work, and working from home if you're ill as well as washing your hands, blowing your nose with something disposable like a tissue etc.

    There is absolutely no point me worrying about it, because a) the odds right now are there is nothing to worry about, b) there's nothing I can do other than what I do anyway even if it was worth worrying about.

  • by Ozlanthos ( 1172125 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @01:10PM (#28327359)
    I refuse to have any shots or other treatments until I am actually "sick". If I am a carrier, sorry dude, you might die but I doubt I will. The reason "pandemics" usually occur is due to OVER-POPULATION. Once people start figuring out that having millions and millions of little petrie-dishes concentrated tightly enough for a virus to play mutation-hop-scotch in, the better off we will be. We are biological organisms, and as such the same rules that apply to other populations of biological organisms apply to us!!!

    Besides we could probably use a good culling or two. Between pandemic and war, I will choose pandemic 7 days a week and twice on Sunday. Pandemics are indiscriminate and take down rich, poor, black, brown, yellow, red, white, gay, straight, Jew, Gentile, Atheist, young and old. Wars tend to take out those fighting them and some collateral damage.,,,never those rich or privileged enough to escape them.

  • by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @03:09PM (#28328189) Journal

    Given flu traditionally excels in cold weather, I'm not sure swine flu, particularly with the other issues in Africa, are an especially big concern.

    And saying North America has a functioning healthcare system.... BWAHAHA! Canada, yes. The US? HAHAHA! You should try telling that to the American's I'm friends with who have medical problems.

    One friend the other day pointed out that if she injures herself, she's better off getting into her car and deliberately crashing it as her deductible is half that of her HMO.

    As I said above, there's sure going to be a lot of testing of the safety and efficacy of this vaccine isn't there! I mean it's probably 2-3 months before CNN and friends begin the hype machine to sell vaccines. 3 months.

    Russian Roulette in needle form.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990