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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

That flu vaccine finally arrives

That flu vaccine finally arrives...

Jan. 18 (HealthDay News)

"The two drugs -- both members of the neuraminidase inhibitor class of antivirals -- appear to be ineffective against seasonal flu outbreaks and should only be used in the event of a serious epidemic or pandemic, the study authors report in the Jan. 19 online edition of The Lancet."

"Roche fundamentally disagrees with the conclusions reached by the authors that Tamiflu should not be used for the treatment of prevention of seasonal influenza," said company spokesman Terry Hurley. "The conclusion is at odds with the opinion of experts and regulatory authorities around the world."

Appealing to the authority of man may not be a good idea when facing an influenza pandemic. The experts and regulatory authorities disagree with a study that found that they may have been wrong. Of course the experts are going to turn around and accuse the new study as being the one that is wrong. What matters however is the ability to help a large population fight off the influenza virus. What is at stake? The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War I, somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. I'm sure we all feel better knowing that there is a "vaccine" available but shouldn't we be concerned that the one we are choosing to use may not work? What if we were Marines in Iraq and someone told us that our guns may not work. Would we not go out and fire our guns to check out the theory? Or would we call a meeting, assess the credentials of the two opposing authorities and decide whether or not to go into battle based upon who is more believable? Like a gun battle, this fight against the influenza virus might just be a life and death issue. It should be taken seriously. We should find out who is right and who is wrong.

So to sum up this cargo cult science; A long time ago some scientists in white lab coats developed a vaccine against the polio virus. They put an end (almost) to a horrible epidemic that killed thousands of young children. Now we have another virus that threatens to kill thousands. We have a vaccine. It was developed by people in white lab coats. Let the flu season begin.

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