In [last night's post] I mention a letter leaked to the press about the vaccine situation for Scotland, news of which was published July 8. There was another leak, first reported on July 10 and reported today at U.K.'s First Post under the somewhat lurid headline:
Swine flu: NHS ‘muddle’ as London on brink of epidemicIt goes without saying that the memo would have factored into the British government's decision to announce a fast-tracked vaccination program.
A leaked NHS memo criticises emergency swine flu planning while the Chief Medical Officer says London is almost in an H1N1 epidemic
A leaked memo has revealed that senior NHS [National Health Service] officials consider emergency plans to combat the swine flu pandemic in Britain are muddled and pointless.
The memo, which was sent by an NHS trust executive and leaked to the Times, criticises the government's "muddled thinking" on emergency planning, including the setting up of a national diagnosis phone line, which is yet to materialise - forcing NHS trusts to set up their own.
I also asked whether Britain's planned fast-tracking would extend throughout the European Union. I have found this report at Xinhua from July 6 titled EU to develop common strategy. The EU statement sounds vague:
[...] It pointed out that the cooperation will encompass different measures regarding vaccines, antiviral drugs and other public health measures. In this context, it is important to develop strategies to protect people in different risk groups.So I don't believe it's yet known whether the rest of the EU nations will coordinate a fast-tracked vaccination program
If you read the entire First Post news report, you'll note it mentions three "ominous" developments with regard to the swine flu virus, as reported in the New Scientist. The second item is about a "mutation" found in Shanghai. But when you go to the New Scientist report, the discovery refers to a "mutation to the virus's polymerase enzyme, which makes it replicate more efficiently ..."
So here we are again, driving through pea-soup fog. At these times it helps to remember John Batchelor's oft-repeated dictum that in war the first three reports are always wrong.
This virus, as with any virus, is undergoing slight alterations all the time. Is the Shanghai discovery a "significant" mutation, or is it even a mutation in the technical sense? I am not qualified to pronounce on these questions, and I doubt the First Post reporter is, either.
See the June 26 update to my post on the Brazilian (Sao Paulo) swine flu mutation for the meaning of a "significant" mutation.
We have no choice but to await further developments because the New Scientist article does not provide a source for the information on the Shanghai discovery. This caused a correspondent to snap, "I want three independent confirmations" when I sent him the report.
Of more immediate concern is the New Scientist mention that the swine flu virus seems to be pushing out the seasonal influenza strain in a number of countries; if that turns out to be true, and the trend continues and expands globally, the vaccine for the seasonal flu won't be much help, if any. I suggest you read the entire report, which isn't lengthy, for more detail on this angle.
But again, take the discussion with a grain of salt. The winter influenza season is just gearing up in the southern hemisphere, and it's wound down in the northern one. So of course, right at this moment, there would not be that many 'regular' influenza cases.
Again, we have no choice but to wait on developments. We are in the early days of what could be a long war. Steady on.