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Thursday, May 20, 2010

UK : Pandemic – there are still lessons to be learnt

Via Public Service :

" Last year's swine flu pandemic might not have hit the UK as hard as was expected, but the experience merits detailed examination. Caroline Pennington reports from Public Service Events' National Preparedness and Response 2010 conference.

The swine flu pandemic which stirred fear and then controversy for British authorities was declared over in February after seven months. Loss of life worldwide was estimated at 14,000 and in Britain was limited to 411 as millions of vaccines were ordered and the vast majority went unused.

A key message from the pandemic experience was that response plans should be flexible and generic in nature given that the spread was incredibly rapid from first identification in April, and two weeks later cases were being identified throughout the world, said Professor Nick Phin, flu expert at the Health Protection Agency.

"The four factors that need to be present in order for a pandemic to occur include a new sub-type; the presence of little or no population immunity; clinical illness in humans; and, most importantly, efficient human-to-human spread," Phin told the conference.

However, despite the importance of knowledge of two proteins in the virus – the Neuraminidase protein and the Haemagglutinin protein provide the main target for influenza vaccines – there is no room for complacency, warned Phin."

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