Monday, 13 July 2009

The pigs flew?

Debora MacKenzie bloging in the New Scentist says that the British mirage of "containment" meant administering prophylactic half-doses of antiviral drugs to contacts of the few known cases to stop them spreading the virus. Such a policy only makes sense if the virus is not already spreading widely, and it risks creating drug-resistant viruses - as happened in Denmark and also in Japan.

The normal seasonal H1N1 virus became almost entirely Tamiflu resistant over the past two years, for reasons that are not yet understood. Scientists fear the pandemic virus, also a member of the H1N1 family, might acquire Tamiflu resistance by interbreeding with these ordinary strains. To start with we were almost able count individual cases.

The experts say that individuals differ in the way they react to viruses. (So maybe there were too few to get a clear idea of effects) The current virus apparently binds deep in the lung, and can trigger potentially fatal pneumonia if the person infected mounts a strong inflammation in response to it. As more people become infected the effects should become more apparant.

Interestingly, Daniel Hannan in his blog asks "Why, then, the urgent need to inoculate the entire British population? Perhaps I’m being overly cynical, but I can’t help wondering whether we’re being pushed into a wrong-headed course of action by the health scare industry."

The new deaths of a six-year old schoolgirl and a GP don't make it any clearer.

We will just have to wait and see.

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