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Update on the Avian Flu Pandemic Panic

By Michael Fumento

As the months go by the chances of an avian flu pandemic diminish, as does the potential severity if there is such a pandemic. Among recent developments:

1. The FDA has approved the Sanofi-Aventis H5N1 avian flu vaccine. It is not as effective as seasonal flu vaccines; moreover, two injections are required with about a month in-between. Nevertheless, this is an obvious milestone. The U.S. has stockpiled enough for 6.5 million people, namely first responders, but could order more if need be. Meanwhile the U.S. government is funding six different companies to come up with superior vaccines while in all at least 12 companies and 17 governments are developing H5N1 influenza vaccines in 28 different clinical trials. Incidentally, this is notwithstanding Mark Helprin's rebuttal to my response to his utterly ignorant pandemic panic piece in the Spring issue of The Claremont Review of Books. In the current issue he states: "It is possible that continuing research will extend the hopeful progress to date, and that the newly emerging pathogens will be (almost) neutralized by antiviral vaccines. But these vaccines are not available now." I recently read his novel "A Soldier of the Great War" and thoroughly enjoyed it. But he needs to stick to what he knows, rather than stringing together headlines from the MSM.

2. Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, shown effective against H5N1, has announced it has filled all orders from all countries. It is now in position to quickly fill any new orders if the need arises.

3. Meanwhile, new WHO data show an incredibly low resistance rate of around 0.3 percent to Tamiflu.

4. Researchers have just discovered they can successfully inoculate mice with antibodies from persons exposed to H5N1. In other words, those exposed to the disease are living vaccine machines. This is not a surprise insofar as such inoculations were used way back during the 1918-1919 pandemic.

5. WHO figures through May 30 show that after three years of increases, cases of H5N1 are coming in at a slightly slower pace than last year. Since cases don't distribute themselves evenly through the year and the first four months of the year are especially large contributors, this figure is even better than it looks. Many of the pandemic panic purveyors last year, including Robert Webster of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital specifically cited the annual increases in H5N1 cases as cause for alarm. What's a decrease cause for? Yup, they'll find a way for that to be alarming as well.

May 30, 2007 02:10 PM  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)