Friday, February 06, 2015

Previous Knowledge about variation of Influenza

      This article created by Sarah Kanpton and Ben Riley-Smith, journalists from The Telegraph, described how the World Health Organization (WHO) knew about the newest strain of the flu last march. The WHO's Global Influenza Surveillance Response System gained knowledge about the variant strain early last year through collaboration of 142 laboratories in 112 countries. Circulation of the influenza A subtype viruses have increase hospital visits throughout the Northern hemisphere in the current winter months. Although health officials state that there was no way possible to predict that the variation would become the dominant strain, questions are still being asked as to why the information was withheld. A new study done on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine stated that the vaccine has only protected 3.4 percent of people, whereas about half of the people who get the vaccine are protected in typical scenarios. In defense of why the vaccine was not up to par Dr. Skinner, Head of the Vaccine Vector Group at Imperial College London, stated  "Although the virus was detected in March there was no real way of knowing whether it would become established as a significant player in the northern hemisphere in the winter,”. In addition he said, “Moreover, there are supply issues, so effectively you get one chance per year. If you delay, say to restart with a new virus, then even if you managed to produce as much, you probably wouldn’t be able to roll it out through GPs and clinics in time for the season.”

   This article sheds light on the power of global authorities to choose to release information or withhold it. I believe that it is the responsibility of the WHO to inform the public of specific information regarding vaccines and new forms of the flu. The article also brings to the forefront just how powerful the influenza virus can be and how quickly mutations can occur. Dr. Skinner stated that although this variation of the flu was known, starting over with a new virus would have posed problems in getting the vaccine out in time for the season. Though that may have been the case the public still should have been made aware so that they could have taken stricter precautions during the winter season to protect themselves.

Phylicia Smith

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