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Millions of doses of swine flu vaccine to be off-loaded

Fergus Walsh | 17:30 UK time, Friday, 8 January 2010

What do you do with vaccine that no-one needs?

That is the question currently puzzling the Department of Health. Back in May the government signed contracts with two suppliers - GSK and Baxter - to supply 90 million doses of H1N1 pandemic vaccine.

That was on the basis that two doses would be needed to provide protection. Swine flu has turned out to be far milder than was initially feared and so the government is going to be left with a huge amount of unused vaccine.

The Department of Health has revealed that it has a break clause in its contract with Baxter which had been asked to supply 30 million doses, but it appears there is no get-out clause in the deal with GSK, set to provide 60 million doses. GSK has so far delivered 23.9 million doses to the government and Baxter five million.

That is more than enough to vaccinate all the at-risk groups and the government made clear there are no plans to extend immunisation.

The Head of Immunisation at the Department of Health, Professor David Salisbury said: "The Baxter contract has a break clause. We are in discussion with GSK about future supplies of vaccine." When asked how much the government might be able to re-coup from the deal with GSK he said "That is what we are discussing now."

For commercial reasons no figure has been given for the cost of the vaccine contracts, but it's likely to run into several hundred million pounds. Professor Salisbury said there were a number of options which included selling excess doses or giving them away to developing countries.

But he added that it was essential that the UK kept a stockpile of H1N1 vaccine in case there was a resurgence of the virus over the coming year.

One option being discussed with GSK, which was described as "innovative" by the Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, would involve keeping a stockpile of adjuvant, the booster chemical which is produced separately from the vaccine and mixed later.

Professor Salisbury said this would be a good idea as it could be used in conjunction with another flu vaccine in the event of a new pandemic. He said the adjuvant had a shelf life of five years.

When asked whether the NHS would be left substantially out of pocket by purchasing so much H1N1 vaccine, Sir Liam said that the contracts were signed earlier this year amid the early and very alarming information about deaths from the virus in Mexico. The death rates in Mexico were later reduced.

Vaccine uptake

There are no accurate figures for the UK. But in England:

• At least one in three people in the initial priority groups has had the vaccine.
• 3.2 million doses have been administered.
• 113,000 pregnant women have had the jab out of around 600,000 - about one in five.
• 373,000 front-line health workers have had the jab out of around a million (there are no figures for uptake among front-line social care workers).
• 86,000 doses have been given to healthy children aged six months to under five out of more than three million, but this process only got underway before Christmas.

Professor Salisbury urged all those in the at-risk groups to get immunised, especially children under five because it was not clear what would happen with swine flu over the year ahead.

Swine flu figures

There is very little swine flu about. Latest figures show that there were fewer than 5,000 new cases in England over the past week. And disease "modellers" have advised the Department that a third wave of swine flu is unlikely this winter.

Sir Liam pointed out that there were the same experts who predicted that up to 65,000 people might die from swine flu this winter - a figure which was later downgraded to 1,000.

This lack of swine flu in the community will make it more difficult to persuade those at risk of flu complications to come forward to be immunised.

But the Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson pointed out that 20 children under five and 12 pregnant women had died in the UK from swine flu related conditions since April.

To date there have been 360 deaths from swine flu in the UK (251 in England, 64 in Scotland, 28 in Wales and 17 in Northern Ireland). But the vast majority of those infected have had either a mild disease or no symptoms at all.

In England there were 393 people in hospital with swine flu on 6 January, 103 of them in critical care.


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  • 1. At 6:47pm on 08 Jan 2010, Mary wrote:

    I have been trying to obtain a vaccine for some time now but I am told by the surgery that there is not enough to go round.
    I offered to pay as I travel alone and am worried about catching it. I am not in the official vulnerable groups although I am in that group for the seasonal flu vaccine.
    I do have and have had chest problems bronchitis not helped by smoking, so although I apparently have some immunity being old, if I was to catch it I could become quite ill ( not such a good prospect when you are alone in a foreign country). Also my doctor refuses to prescribe Tamiflu in case.
    Should I now have to go to a third world country to obtain the vaccine. I assume that those fools in Parliment do not have this problem.

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  • 2. At 7:39pm on 08 Jan 2010, sussexjools wrote:

    I have followed Fergus' blog religously over recent months and found it very helpful. As a mum to a primary school pupil I have been extremely concerned about the risk to her, even though the word is that the disease is mild in MOST cases; and have taken some comfort when I read that the infection rates have fallen. However, I feel frustration at the apparent decision not to plan the vaccine to over 5s who don't have an underlying health condition, once the younger ones have been immunised. If you read the US sites, they are encouraging under 24s to have the vaccine, citing the same arguments for them as we do here for under 5s/diabetics etc. Only 1 in 20 having been vaccinated nationally here and maybe 1 in 10 will have had the disease in some form - means that 17 in 20 of us are still exposed to risk of catching and passing on the disease. I don't find that a very comforting figure. Also my husband travels abroad extensively, is very overweight (which some authorities see as a high risk factor, but seems to get little mention in the UK) and I have the same concern for him, but have no means of accessing the vaccine for any of us in the medium term, even if we were willing to pay for it. I wouldn't want to jump the queue ahead of those considered to be at increased risk, but surely the rest of us should be offered the vaccine in turn. As a long-stop, I wonder whether we will all be able to access the new seasonal flu vaccine in the autumn of 2010 if we are willing to pay?

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  • 3. At 8:17pm on 08 Jan 2010, marmite1 wrote:

    Firstly it is good/great the government made allowance for the 'worst case' and secured sufficient stocks for the full population (2 jabs each etc) and in the event the pandemic had been worse - we would have all be very, very grateful. Of all the issues we have in this country on the whole it has been good to see our health being taken seriously in this instance. And a well led (Liam Donaldson), open public information stream on the pandemic - a refreshing change.

    So great we have this issue of over supply to some extent, I would suggest a solution is to offer out the jabs at a 'cost price' to all UK individuals not in the priority groups. This would recoup some of the money for the government and allow those who want it to access it for themselves or their children. Rather than not giving us the option at all. Keep a stockpile and then after that it can be sold on or donated. We must keep enough back to cover things if the pandemic gets worse in spread or severity.

    We are still waiting for both our under 5's to be vaccinated and so I hope the plentiful supplies are reaching the doctors for this (and other priority groups) as the focus - before we get too into the disposal.

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  • 4. At 10:45pm on 08 Jan 2010, TechSing wrote:

    Frankly I am absolutely disgusted, and I don't say that lightly, by the governement's attitude on this.

    While I accept the virus may be disappearing for the time being, there is no guarentee that it will not return, perhaps in a more virulent form. And those of us who want the protection, who were actually PROMISED the protection by the government are now not going to be offered it?! And of course they announce this once the medical and no doubt political elite have already had them.

    At the very least they should make these jabs available at cost price to those that want them, although really they should be free as we have already more than paid for them in taxes.

    Politically this is a poor decision too, because it will falsely send out the message that these vaccines were ordered needlessly or that they are not useful now, which is far from the case.

    I will be writing to my MP immediately.

    I hope someone with a bit more time on their hands will take out a high court injunction to force the government to offer these jabs to those that want them.

    I am furious, and very little has the potential to make me angry.

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  • 5. At 11:45pm on 08 Jan 2010, SShark32 wrote:

    Marmite - I agree with everything you said there.

    It would be good if private GPs, or organisations like Boots/Lloyds pharmacy could buy supplies then those that want a jab (regardless of their medical conditions/age) can get one.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I'd rather the government gets moaned at by "it was all a storm in a teacup" types, than the awful alternative of people bashing down their GP's door during a pandemic with a really harsh virus.

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  • 6. At 01:16am on 09 Jan 2010, indus88 wrote:

    No one really knows what will happen with the flu in the coming year and the same government that overreacted is now refusing to give the vaccine to people not in the priority risk groups who want it, eventhough it is already there and has been paid for. This level of administrative institutionalized incompetence is fascinating as is the big brother mentality of the British health system. The American lack of universal health care may be the one extreme, this is definitely the other, where basic health decisions have been outsourced to a collective state managed provider, who uses peoples' tax money (essentially with no input by the people)to provide "one size fits all" care. It's like the Ford Model T

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  • 7. At 03:24am on 09 Jan 2010, Andrew from Anerley wrote:

    I am angry that at a time when we have massive debts we are having to offload something, a swine flu vaccine, that we never ever needed. Look. 17 dead from Swine Flu in July SEVENTEEN. What is the extra number of flu deaths in a bad season? EIGHTEEN? TWENTY? Yes that's right 20,000 so we must be pretty close to that with swine flu? Surely with all the hype? Surely when we were expecting body bags in the street and 65000 dead? No 360. Individual tragedies all but the reporting of this has been nothing short of scandalous. Indeed it came from the school of reporting from the Simpsons movie "Kent Brockman here reporting on a crisis so serious it has its own name and theme music." It was surely fairly obvious in July that this wasn't that virulent? Swine flu for example was killing people in Australia in their flu season but crucially LESS than in a normal flu season. This was SARS reporting again. Bong a 1000 people in Hong Kong where they live cheek by jowl have the highly contagious SARS virus it was reported. The next week we assumed that it would be say one hundred thousand, or half a million? No still a 1000...Cathay Pacific almost put out of business by hysterical hyperbole.

    So what does this mean Swine Flu, SARS etc being reported like this? Well we know a flu pandemic is overdue. Swine flu could have been it but 6 months ago it was pretty certain this wasn't it. What has been achieved is that when the proper actual full on full bore pandemic hits no-one will believe it. This crying wolf will in future kill people as they will say rightly well SARS was nonsense, Swine flu was rubbish, so this so called Killer flu is a nonsense. Except it won't be. The reporting of this has been shameful, and the experts who have got this painfully, horribly wrong should be wheeled out now to explain why their predictions were so embarassingly wrong. This should happen as a matter of course so that some of them in future might think twice before essentially lying.

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  • 8. At 04:19am on 09 Jan 2010, david owen wrote:

    Now that the health service realises that they were duped by the drug companies into panic buying millions of doses of an almost useless drug,admittedly they were not alone in the world,they could do the same as France and offer them to the chineese whose medical paranoir still keeps them wearing face masks to avoid catching swine flu and would gladly pay for what small protection is offered.

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  • 9. At 04:28am on 09 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    Can't win. if they said they would do nothing then the public would say they didn't care, if they said it was less serious then the public would say yes but people have died and then some of us might say yes but more people have died from alcoholism car crashes and other diseases than have died from swine flu.

    Yes but.. MY child /spouse died yes but no-one lives forever. How can we be so cruel? we aren't being cruel it is not US who killed anyone.

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  • 10. At 08:36am on 09 Jan 2010, SShark32 wrote:

    Andrew - I totally agree with you that much of the media always blows every situation out of proportion and is only interested in writing about worst case scenarios (not the BBC it must be said).

    However, I'm interested to know why people think the experts/politicians got it wrong? Even if you do think Britain's experts and politicians got it wrong, their actions were fairly consistant with the rest of the world.

    I have never heard an expert or politician claim that a certain number of people WILL die or that they know exactly how potent the virus is. In fact they have always said the opposite - they dont know what will happen.

    Cynicism is expected - lets face it the politicians/authorities have let us down on many issues before - but I think it's really unfair to use the benefit of hindsight to bash them with. The response to a pandemic was the agreed response to a pandemic - a new virus emerges, it spreads in many parts of the world, we distribute tamiflu and get a vaccine for everyone as quick as possible. People may disagree with that strategy, but that's the strategy. We dont have the luxury of waiting 6 months just to make sure the virus was definitely going to kill lots of people.

    I dislike paying taxes as much as the next person, but when it comes to issues like these I'm happy to have paid too much rather than not enough.

    I'd also like to repeat my questions from Fergus' last blog that nobody has been kind enough to answer. I am admitting my naivety and hoping someone can help.....

    Regarding pharmaceutical companies exploiting the world for their own financial gain:
    - How did the likes of GSK, Baxter, Novartis etc manage to con the world's governments into buying the vaccine? Are you saying they outsmarted every government in the world, or are you saying that Government's are being paid off? With either option, how come none of the opposition parties have spoken out about this waste of money? How come independent medical experts or advisors have remained silent?
    3) How come no serious journalist has exposed this. Maybe Fergus is nothing but a government stooge, but what about journalists that want to criticise the government? Why hasnt the Daily Mail or Telegraph exposed this shocking waste of money?

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  • 11. At 08:52am on 09 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Fergus Walsh.

    "What do you do with vaccine that no-one needs? ... The Department of Health has revealed that it has a break clause in its contract with Baxter which had been asked to supply 30 million doses, but it appears there is no get-out clause in the deal with GSK, set to provide 60 million doses."

    the cynic in me would like to see the surplus injected into the 'honourable' members of both houses, that said, the people who negotiated the GSK contract should get the sack and lose their pension entitlement.

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  • 12. At 09:02am on 09 Jan 2010, jon112dk wrote:

    Personally I have always supported the government in taking this seriously. If a genuine 1918 style flu appears it would be disastrous to ignore it at the begining then only start taking action once it was proved to be serious. Obviously they should do it this way round - assume it's serious, step down if it's not.

    The vaccine has issue reinforced my opinion of public policy. Shame this 'special group' obsessed government is still unwilling to allow ordinary people access to the vaccine. See #1 above - he's right: if he flew out to India he could get his vaccine and tamiflu, in the UK he is not 'special' so he has no chance.

    Perhaps people would be less averse to public spending if those doing all the paying also received some sort of services.

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  • 13. At 09:26am on 09 Jan 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    As we watch the flu vaccine issue unfold, it tells its own story very well. If we get a much more severe pandemic in the future, with a higher death rate, people will not sit back and wait patiently as they are doing now. I can see from the results of this 'practice run' that 'ordinary folk' might have something to worry about in the future.

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  • 14. At 09:28am on 09 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    from the beginning I'd thought of the swine flu issue as a panicdemic being created (read: media circus and political expedience) rather than a genuine pandemic that should concern us all and low mortality figures have supported my view (so far), but I'm chuffed that I can agree for once with jon112uk (#12) on something:

    "Perhaps people would be less averse to public spending if those doing all the paying also received some sort of services."

    Hear, hear.

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  • 15. At 09:35am on 09 Jan 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    I believe that if we get the 'big one' in the future, they may have to send out an army of postal workers with vaccine so that we vaccinate ourselves. However, this also worries me.

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  • 16. At 11:15am on 09 Jan 2010, grumpynotoldman wrote:

    Herd immunity requires mass vaccination doesn't it?
    Can someone tell us if getting a jab for this particular virus, profers any protection for the one that will eventually kill everyone?
    My kids have all had colds over Xmas yet my wife and I haven't had a sniffle.
    Presumably we have been exposed previously when younger and developed immunity to the bugs that they harboured and spread so easily by droplet infection!
    Does anyone else's cat leave the room fast when someone sneezes?

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  • 17. At 11:36am on 09 Jan 2010, jm0422 wrote:

    WOndering the same about herd immunity??? I have a 3 year old and a 4 month old. Got a call from GP to vaccinate my 3 year old, but wondering if SF cases pop up again what about the rest of my family?

    SHould not everyone who wants to be vacciated be given the right to choose this?

    Does this jab offer any protection should a mutated version show up next season?

    Is it too late in the game to even worry about getting the vaccination?

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  • 18. At 1:06pm on 09 Jan 2010, robbo wrote:

    i see a lot of people flapping over nothing, the UK ordered 2 doses for every person in the UK, they since found you only need one dose to confer immunity, even in children they are saying 1 dose is enough, we where always going to have surplus vaccine, and the vaccine will probably be useless next year as they are thinking of adding swine flu to the yearly seasonal vaccine, plus it will probably be no good against a slightly mutated strain,on that note my niece,pheobe, has just been put into an induced coma and has been put on ECMO at john radcliff hospital, they are not saying it's swine flu, just that it is a repiritory virus, so this virus is dangerous and it is a concern, i am angry at the GP's and goverment,pheobe is in the under 5 category, if they hadn't bickered for so long about money over the vaccine she would have been vaccinated in december and probably wouldn't be in the hospital fighting for her life, i would be less concerned about the goverment selling off surplus virus and more concerned about how it was distributed,unfortunately we appear to live in a world where money is more important to goverments than our lives

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  • 19. At 2:39pm on 09 Jan 2010, majoru wrote:

    As an earlier blog stated - it was clear that this was not a bad flu virus .

    Numbers of infections & fatalities were & still are way below ordinary flu stats .

    Note that the drug industry did £billions worth of business .
    Note GSK had a no-get-out clause !

    And will the civil servants responsible ba held to account ?

    NB the govt has agreed that good nutrition is essential for good speedy recovery from hospital . And what do we read - STILL food in general in hospitals is very poor . And the govt has not put in place strong governance which enables those responsible to be held to account .

    Govt/MPs are not doing the job of wise elders .
    There are solutions but as someone else said money/big business talks .

    We have to take care of ourselves (local economy & sensible living) ,
    until people become vocal/active against the incompetence & expenses mentality
    of our lords & masters !

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  • 20. At 4:39pm on 09 Jan 2010, Dave wrote:

    May I suggest that the Chief Medical Officer applies his professional judgement when making a decision and does not merely take the "worst case" figures produced by an anonymous modelling team. It was apparent very early that this strain of flu was in reality less dangerous than normal seasonal flu. However in response to media hype / ill informed public opinion the Government was advised to panic buy vast quantities of vaccine. Can I ask how many nurses / hospitals / operations were denied to fund this exercise?

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  • 21. At 6:17pm on 09 Jan 2010, ScotInNotts wrote:

    The government has to take it's cue from the WHO on matters such as this, and as other have mentioned we are overdue for another pandemic.

    Whilst it was prudent at the time to prepare a vaccine against this particular strain it doesn't appear to have struck many that there are severe limitations should a pandemic arise.

    As has been seen in this case, accumulation of sufficient stocks to immunise the entire population against a particular strain takes an inordinate amount of resources in time, expense, organisation and facilities.

    The worst case scenario is a virus with the potential to mutate over a relatively short timescale, the problems of accumulating sufficient stocks of vaccine (if there is even one available) then become even more severe.

    In short, that there was even a vaccine available to a proportion of the population this time should not be taken as a guarantee that this will happen each and every time a new strain appears. The general public place too much unrealistic expectations on the capabilities of modern medicine to be able to react sufficiently to a potential threat of this magnitude and timescale.

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  • 22. At 6:19pm on 09 Jan 2010, JP_Herts wrote:

    Can some one please tell me what ever happened to bird flu?

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  • 23. At 11:44am on 10 Jan 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    post 22 esoxlucius,
    Bird flu is on simmer, in the stock pot of life events, in far away places. Keep looking out!

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  • 24. At 2:59pm on 10 Jan 2010, iknowsbest wrote:

    This swine flu episode may not be over yet by a long shot...& may even why are government's trying to sell their un-used supply's when like a number of the population have not received a dose yet, even those in the danger area's of having underlying problem's & a sizable number of children & young people who are also at great risk. We have the worst winter on record for over fifty years & when it's all over & the dead are counted up who's to say that a number of them didn't die with this flu or even pneumonia resulting from same. No, I say hang on to your bird flu vaccine's and feel lucky for in Ukraine there have been reports that some of the H1N1 vaccines there have have been interlinked with a human flu & now there's a strain of A/N1N1 which is totally fatal as it cause's cardio/pulmonary shock rather than bilateral pneumonia. No use "Giving it all away today" & needing it all back "Tomorrow" is there? Now (& I don't like saying this) get ready to continue the "Death Count"!

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  • 25. At 6:11pm on 10 Jan 2010, Ryan wrote:

    I wonder if they will try estimating deaths any time soon. It's very likely the death count is a lot higher than 360. In November the US estimated that theirs been 10,000 deaths, while their had only been around 2,000 confirmed deaths.

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  • 26. At 8:42pm on 10 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    I get the feeling the more you pay attention to these issues the more they grow. feed a cold starve the flu they say. The story grows with the telling.

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  • 27. At 10:32pm on 10 Jan 2010, GillieBollie wrote:

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Here you all go again. Try living your life in the here and now rather than panicking about things that may never happen.................

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  • 28. At 09:21am on 11 Jan 2010, jm0422 wrote:

    Hear Hear, Gillie!!

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  • 29. At 10:30am on 11 Jan 2010, TrueScotsman90 wrote:


    Western media remain largely silent and ignorant about situation

    In recent week there have been several severe outbreaks of H5N1 virus among both poultry and humans in Indonesia, happening at the same time on different locations of the country

    Just to summarize some of the recent news:

    In this situation, I find Western media reporting little, if anything at all. While it might be true that some international events are over-covered by media (example Middle East conflict), I would not agree to the statement H5N1 outbreaks in Asia being in the category of over-covered events

    I am glad FluTrackers and other similar groups are concerned about the situation. Mainstream media have responsibilities informing the general public. I am questioning why news agencies, papers, radio and TV stations don't bother to inform properly

    The burst of news coming from Indonesian media clearly indicates a situation of concern.

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  • 30. At 11:22am on 11 Jan 2010, hanchi wrote:

    This makes me very mad. I've been trying to vaccinate mt 13 month old daughter and my GP practice keeps telling me that they haven't received guidelines for healthy children yet, even though NHS web site says vaccination for 6months to under 5's is ongoing. I wanted to pay for it privately and they said it's not available. Instead of off-loading why not offer it to people who want it and want to pay for it. That way they can 'recoup' some if not all the money.
    It really sounds crazy that with more then enough doses available to vaccinate everyone I would have to go to a third world country to pay for the vaccine that I already paid for with my taxes here!!! Is there anyone in NHS who can think logically??

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  • 31. At 1:39pm on 11 Jan 2010, yorkshireshaz wrote:

    46 deaths since previous national update, this seems very high to me!

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  • 32. At 00:52am on 12 Jan 2010, Icefalls2 wrote:

    I've just seen this petition on the number 10 site demanding the vaccination be made available. Suggest those who agree sign it and spread the word.

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  • 33. At 12:07pm on 12 Jan 2010, Tina wrote:

    So are you going to get people to sign up for the normal flu vaccine too??

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  • 34. At 12:13pm on 12 Jan 2010, Little_swan wrote:

    32# Thanks for drawing attention to this petition - Signed.

    My Husband has been unable to get his vaccination even though his work means travelling abroad alot and I am in one of the at risk groups. I have had my jab. I worry for him alot.

    If you agree, please sign the petition.

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  • 35. At 09:07am on 13 Jan 2010, comeoncomeon wrote:

    Why are some GPs still reluctant to vaccinate children. My little boy (4) had his yesterday. He's fine, in fact not even complained of a sore arm. I know several children who have had it and none have shown any ill effects apart from sore arms.
    Another friend rang her surgery but was told there was no agreement yet. The same day she found out my son had been done, she phoned back and was told that it was because they hadn't received the doses yet. The story was changed in the space of one day.
    Its about time someone took charge of this situation.

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  • 36. At 7:20pm on 13 Jan 2010, Kenneth wrote:

    When you say "there are no accurate figures for the UK", do you mean that there are no accurate figures for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and, if so, why not be explicit and say this?

    Or, do you really mean that you are a London-based journalist, there are no consolidated UK figures produced which you can just copy and paste, and you don't have the time or inclination to go and dig out four separate sets of figures?

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  • 37. At 2:00pm on 14 Jan 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    I see there is now an article elsewhere on the BBC website asking if the UK government over-reacted on swine flu.

    Well, with the benefit of hindsight, it looks like they did. Swine flu hasn't been nearly as serious as the worst predictions. However, hindsight is always 20/20. I honestly don't see how anyone could have known back in the summer that it was going to turn out to be as low a threat as it has been. It seems to me (and I don't often say this about our government!) that they got it about right.

    If they had not prepared as thoroughly as they did and the pandemic had been worse than it was, that would have been an unforgiveable mistake.

    A good motto for situations like this is "hope for the best, prepare for the worst".

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  • 38. At 3:13pm on 14 Jan 2010, TrueScotsman90 wrote:

    Well worth a look,

    "HA syn413K and NA syn407V Cross Segment Linkage Increases Range and Penetration"

    These segments from multiple sequences can have an impact on the effectiveness of the A/H1N1 vaccination programme if it continues to spread.

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  • 39. At 11:19pm on 14 Jan 2010, dmcblue wrote:

    i'm pleased the 2 peaks we've seen seem to have been less serious than feared but i agree that i'd much rather be in the position where we planned for the worse and had some spare vaccine than we hope for the best and thousands die because we never planned, even though its been much better than we feared lets not forget than many people have died, many of them children with many families still in grief over it, not as many as feared but thats no consolation if you're one of those families

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  • 40. At 12:07pm on 15 Jan 2010, FrankyB wrote:

    I don't get it. Why do people want a vaccination for a virus they're not likely to catch and which, for the vast majority of people, is very mild?

    I also don't understand why people are complaining that we've got a lot of vaccinations left over simply because the government prepared for the worst case scenario, while also complaining that there wasn't enough salt to go around. You cannot always have "just enough" for the exact circumstances that happen - there will always been too much or too little to go around.

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  • 41. At 1:17pm on 15 Jan 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:


    "I don't get it. Why do people want a vaccination for a virus they're not likely to catch and which, for the vast majority of people, is very mild?"

    That's really not hard to understand. Although swine flu is mild for most people, for some it can be serious, even fatal. Why take the chance?

    You could make the same argument about seat belts. When I get into my car, I know that I shall probably get to my destination without having a crash on the way. But I still put my seat belt on.

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  • 42. At 2:00pm on 15 Jan 2010, Jen wrote:

    IMHO the government was in a 'damned if they do, damned if they don't' situation. If they hadn't ordered enough vaccine for everyone people would be screaming even louder.

    I agree that the whole vaccination program was more than a little chaotic (and still is by the sound of it!) and I do agree that everyone should be able to choose to have it if they so wish - especially now that there seems to be an excess of supply.

    I think that many lessons have been learned from this - the flu hot line was a ridiculous mess, and the supply of vaccine took far too long to arrive.

    We have been very lucky. This pandemic could have been far, far worse. We should be thankful that more people haven't died, though my heart breaks for those that have lost loved ones - particularly children.

    Time to move forward methinks. There will always be people to criticise whatever the government do - I don't agree with everything they do, but on this occasion, I believe they mostly did ok.

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  • 43. At 10:25pm on 15 Jan 2010, TroyTempest44 wrote:

    Just seen the piece suggesting the government may have over reacted - blimey I do wish journalists were running the country rather than politicians. I'm impressed that they seem to have all the answers - oh sorry, misread that - it was with the benefit of hindsight! They are only 7 months too late telling us. Where were you with this information when we were planning the response?? Of course the fact that there wasn't a huge rise in deaths from flu surely wouldn't have anything to do with the response would it?

    I realise that I am being a little unfair - I mean it's not like these public sector workers couldn't take time out to consult a clairvoyant is it. They have enough tea breaks and lunches don't they. You wouldn't find them working all the hours god sends to ensure that the country is prepared for a possible pandemic. (sarcasm mode off)

    It's encouraging that people on these blogs actually realise that this situiation could have gone either way - but still a bit depressing that the level of journalism has stooped to this.

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  • 44. At 11:42am on 16 Jan 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    I read on croftblogs that one of the flu blogs is coming to an end. I hope this blog is maintained because I go with the saying, "it ain't over until the fat lady sings."

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  • 45. At 1:21pm on 16 Jan 2010, Vishant wrote:

    Swine Flu is a H1N1 serotype virus, exactly the same family as Spanish Flu. I think we can give forgive a little 'overreaction' wen Spanish Flu killed c.50 million!

    To the person who said it's a media driven problem. Partly true. Fear, death and pestilence sells, and swine flu had it in spades.
    The other part is when something like this lands the demand for information is vociferous, healthcare professionals need time to adjust, takes time to disseminate the information down the chain to the frontline, unfortunately before flu or any other infection hits, healthcare professionals unless they have a special interest in that area may not hear about it till the first news reports break.
    The UK has done brilliantly in dealing with this outbreak, you could view this as a 'warm up' for if H5N1 (Avian Flu) hits, or badly enough a person or animal gets both swine and bird flu increasing the chance of mutation and the emergence of a more fatal strain.
    There is no point in looking back and kicking politicians and scientists about this now, they acted on the best information available at the time.

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  • 46. At 11:59pm on 16 Jan 2010, TechSing wrote:

    In response to aardfrith who wrote ""I don't get it. Why do people want a vaccination for a virus they're not likely to catch and which, for the vast majority of people, is very mild?"

    Your comment seems to suggest there is some serious downside to having a vaccination. There isn't, particularly in the case of a flu vaccine. The odds of a serious negative reaction to a flu jab are extremely small, whereas the consequences of contracting even "mild" flu are significant and potentially deadly. There is also a serious risk that the swine flu could mutate or recombine with another flu, perhaps the deadly H5N1 in the near future and seriously bring about a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions. There is a good chance that by having the swine flu jab, it would give some degree of protection in such an event. Certainly the risk/reward is far in favour of having the jab. I'm not saying people should be forced or even coerced into having the jab, but as we have a massive over supply it only makes sense to give those who want it the opportunity, vaccinating at least a proportion of the population benefits everyone as that proportion would present some degree of resistance within the population to the virus and would also mean more people would be around to keep things running if a lot of people were sick or worse.

    Frankly the government should be paying those who are willing to undergo the inconvenience of having the jab.

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  • 47. At 10:02am on 20 Jan 2010, TrueScotsman90 wrote:

    I sometimes wonder if we are not 20,000 leagues under the sea? Non?

    Data is data. Data transformed becomes information. Information may then feed decision-making. Da?

    When life and death are on the line, transforming that data into information becomes critical and high priority? Nein?

    Today, the nation of the Ukraine officially registered more than 1,000 deaths from influenza viral strains. Though the daily fatality rate is not accelerating, the base rate is holding steady, in general. We expected a mid-month attainment of this fatality level based on the slight acceleration noted previously. The flattening of the daily rate brings the Ukraine death total to 1,005 on the 2010-01-19 report, two days beyond our expectation of 2010-01-17. The Ukraine reached a fatality total in 80 days that took 175 days in the United States, a country with 6 times the population count.

    In the past 80 days, five events have coincided on this small planet:

    1,005 citizens are on report as "swine flu" fatalities in the Ukraine.
    70 sequences from 11 countries (increasing daily) are documented with a genetic background similar to those fatal cases.
    225G has elevated from "no big mutations" to a biased, but documented 50% fatality rate (26 Deaths/52 Sequences).
    225G has elevated from "spontaneous" to a very high potential as a transmissible genotype.
    225G on LvivN6, a fatal case on the related background, is associated with a vaccine escape event.
    Data that occur in similar space and time must be interpreted to determine where on the prism the light will refract, from purely coincidental to perfectly causal. Simply labeling an item of new data as "no big mutations" and "spontaneous" without examination is careless at best and ruthless at worst. A subjective statement made under the banner of science is certainly permissible as an educated guess, a hypothesis. But a hypothesis must be followed by an honest gathering of data, an increasing sample size, the examination against a template and a validation of outcome.

    Expectations are yet higher for a panel of experts. Those steps and more are required prior to making ongoing comments concerning life and death.

    We are awaiting cross-reactivity results for LvivN2, TernopilN10 and TernopilN11. We are watching for lung sample sequences from a cross section of deaths from the beginning of the pandemic to today.

    Have the scholars willingly submerged themselves as a bloc of scientists so far under the sea with so little light that they cannot see the information that is forming directly in front of their eyes? Press releases come from Public Relations personnel sitting comfortably in the Nautilus, some of whom may have long ago "graduated" from the ranks of the working scientist. Information comes from the bench. Let's provide the world with valid information for valid decision-making before this pandemic surges.

    If not, we may find a public unprepared because the leading minds are content to have baptised themselves under the waves of ambiguity, a rank situation allowed only when data is obfuscated and knowledge is withheld. Who will come to the surface before another 80 days passes and leaves us with 1,000 more deaths?

    Certain sub-clades within ΣPF11 are conserving particular genetic features while attaining additional swine inclusions. That much is certain. One of those sub-clades is forming as a potential precursor to Receptor Binding Domain polymorphisms like 225G that are associated with fatalities. Where are the recent sequences from the Ukraine and surrounding countries?

    Will we drive for actionable answers? Or will we patiently wait and count the expirations . . .

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  • 48. At 3:57pm on 20 Jan 2010, onlysmee wrote:

    Apologies for going very off topic, and I may have left this a bit late since I think a lot of people have stopped checking this blog, but I would really appreciate some help. I have to acknowledge that I am not being very successful in keeping my health anxiety under control (though I have so far resisted clicking the link above, which represents some kind of progress!). I remember people recommending a couple of books which really helped them, but I am a bit daunted by searching all through the Fergus archives to find them. If someone could point me in the right direction, it would be really appreciated, since it seems that recognising the problem is not the same as dealing with it. I can't thank all of those who have shared their feelings and experiences with health anxiety enough, as without reading your posts, I think I would still be denying that I had a problem at all, much less trying to deal with it.

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  • 49. At 11:18pm on 20 Jan 2010, BiiBoidshateu wrote:

    So it was all a big scam then Fergus.

    I will be asking the BBC to investigate the I.P origins of some of the rabid pro-vaccine zealots that have been machine-gun posting these swine-flu blogs.

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  • 50. At 3:29pm on 21 Jan 2010, timbob1001 wrote:

    Let me guess - it was all a big conspiracy......

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  • 51. At 3:54pm on 21 Jan 2010, claire m wrote:

    onlysmee im sorry to hear you are suffering with your health anxiety as a anxiety sufferer i know how terrifying it can be hopefully this link will work to a really good forum for anxieties.

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  • 52. At 4:11pm on 21 Jan 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:


    Sorry to hear you're struggling. If your anxiety is seriously impacting on your quality of life, it's best to get professional help. See your GP in the first instance, who should be able to refer you to someone who can help you.

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  • 53. At 2:01pm on 28 Jan 2010, jm0422 wrote:

    So question.... why are parents of infants not a high risk for jab? and if this strain is harder hitting young adults why are they not offering the jab to a broader range of people there is afterall a surplus? If experts are urging people to not be complacent why not vaccinate anyone who wants it, hopefully curb a third wave plus give some immunity to any mutation?

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  • 54. At 7:36pm on 03 Feb 2010, paddy holdsworth wrote:

    Parents should not be frightened into giving their children swine flu vaccines (Swine flu vaccine plans for under-fives). Before anyone considers giving the swine flu vaccine to their children, they should consider the following.

    With the regular flu vaccine researchers found that children who had received the vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization, as compared to children who had not received the vaccine. ScienceDaily (May 20, 2009) The vaccine promoters say it is safe, but swine flu vaccine production was "rushed" and the vaccine was never tested on humans.

    The vaccines contain dangerous adjuvants (chemical substances which are supposed to enhance the immune response) that cause an inflammatory response in the body. This is why they are suspected of causing autism and other neurological disorders.

    Remember we have been here before. Doctors still don't know why the 1976 swine flu vaccines paralyzed hundreds of people in the US.

    The Council of Europe member states launched an inquiry in January 2010 on the influence of the pharmaceutical companies on the global swine flu campaign, focussing especially on extent of the industrys influence on WHO.

    Wolfgang Wodarg , chairman of the European parliaments health committee, initiated the inquiry. He said the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on scientists and government officials resulted in millions of healthy people being exposed unnecessarily to the risks of an inadequately tested vaccine.

    Numerous studies confirm that no swine flu vaccine works as well as vitamin D to protect you from influenza.

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  • 55. At 10:11pm on 27 Feb 2010, Tico wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 56. At 03:00am on 09 Mar 2010, John wrote:

    Now regarding the question of the over supply of swine flu vaccine. The honorable thing for GSK to do is voluntarily release the NHS from the contract.

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  • 57. At 4:28pm on 07 Jan 2011, Angelo wrote:

    I tried to get the vaccine but they would not let me in my home town in Germany. They say that it interacts with the medication I take for my illness Sarcoidosis . Is there anyone that can help me understand this. Should I try another town to get the vaccine. Who should I talk to?

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