Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stanford testing for H1N1 vaccine & FREE seasonal flu vaccine at Vaden

Hey Pox Stars! If there’s any practicable lesson we could have taken from Bob’s class (aside from the skillful timing and technique it takes to jump in the air with 15 other people), it was that vaccines are a lifesaver. If you haven’t received a seasonal flu vaccine yet, there is no excuse because Stanford will be giving away FREE vaccines to employees and students. I saw this on the Vaden website, and I had to tell all of you!

And now, for my final New and Hot . . .

After Roz Diane Lasker’s simulation and Bob’s re-simulation on the “what-ifs” of a biological attack, I thought that these scenarios could be brought down to earth a bit more. As I see it with the H1N1 pandemic, these scenarios are already happening. There are some definite parallels between some of the suggestions our class gave to solving the hypothetical biological outbreak and the H1N1 pandemic happening in real time.

At Stanford Medical School, trials have been underway to test the H1N1 influenza vaccine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is sponsoring the phase-2 trial at six sites around the country. At Stanford, there is a call for 130 volunteers, with 2/3 of this number in the 18-64 age category (I believe our very own Josh Wong is among this group!) and the rest from 65+ above.

The government response stemming from the NIH to disperse resources and mobilize university, intellectual, and volunteer efforts is a common theme among any outbreaks, viral or biological.

As we go back to school soon, the spread of the H1N1 flu strain is expected to diffuse itself among the school-age population more as we have seen happening at several universities. And as much as our class talked about mass vaccination vs. ring containment, decisions like these are happening at this very moment! The federal government is waiting to hear from trials already under way before making a final decision about whether to proceed with a large-scale national immunization program.

But there’s a problem . . .

Stanford Medical School reports: “The government, which had hoped to have 120 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine on hand by Oct. 15, announced on Aug. 18 that, because of delays in the manufacturing process, it now expects only 45 million doses to be available by then.”

Does this predicament remind anybody of the same problem us delegates faced during Atlantic storm? A huge debate we had was whether the smallpox vaccine should be diluted or not. This controversy may be placated with some of the experiments taking place at Stanford Medical School. Trial is underway for the introduction of a novel vaccine that contain an adjuvant: “a substance that stimulates the immune system so that it attacks the virus more vigorously.” With the use of the adjuvant, it may be possible that the dose of vaccine could be lowered, allowing for more people to be immunized.

Hopefully, this will be a great breakthrough to help placate any tense relations forming between Germany and Poland. Way-to-go for friendly mediating efforts from the nearby Sweden!

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