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President Obama Declares H1N1 National Emergency

President Barack Obama declared the H1N1 (swine) flu outbreak a national emergency, the Wall Street Journal reports. “The declaration, which Mr. Obama signed Friday, authorizes the administration to waive or modify certain federal requirements involving Medicare, Medicaid and health-privacy rules to speed treatment,” the newspaper writes (McKay/Simpson/Whalen, 10/26).

Media Examines U.S., Mexico H1N1 Vaccine Campaigns, Health Effects Of Handwashing In Bolivia

The Washington Post examines H1N1 vaccine supplies across the U.S.: “With only a fraction of the tens of millions of doses of vaccine that authorities predicted would be available arriving in states, cities and towns, public health officials who spent months planning for a massive immunization program are instead scrambling to parcel out their limited supply of nasal sprays and shots,” the newspaper writes.

WHO Recommends Antivirals For Patients With Symptoms Of Both H1N1, Pneumonia

The WHO concluded a three-day meeting on H1N1 (swine flu) in Washington, D.C., on Friday, where health experts issued recommendations that patients with symptoms of H1N1 and pneumonia be treated quickly with antivirals, even before the results of H1N1 tests are complete, the San Francisco Chronicle blog, “ChronRX” reports.

Atlantic Examines Flu Vaccine, Antiviral Skepticism

As countries around the world roll out H1N1 (swine flu) virus vaccine campaigns, the Atlantic examines, “[W]hat if everything we think we know about fighting influenza is wrong?”

Studies Examine H1N1 Treatment, Outcome Differences In Mexico, Canada

New studies suggest that “[d]eveloping countries with limited access to advanced health-care facilities may be in for a rough ride with swine [H1N1] flu and even countries with high-tech ICUs may find themselves pushed to the limit as their hospitals struggle to save gravely ill H1N1 patients,” the Canadian Press reports. The studies, which compare outcomes among H1N1 patients admitted to intensive care units in Canada and Mexico,” show “the death rate in the latter was more than double that seen among Canadian patients. Just over 40 percent of critically ill Mexican patients succumbed to their illness by day 60, compared to 17.3 percent of Canadian patients by day 90.” The findings were reported online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Monday.

Low-, Middle-Income Countries Could Receive Donated H1N1 Vaccine Shipments By November, WHO Says

About 100 low- and middle-income countries could receive donated shipments of the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine as early as November, Marie-Paule Kieny, of the WHO, told journalists Monday, Agence France-Presse reports. “Dozens of millions of doses are being lined up following offers from pharmaceutical companies,” including Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and MedImmune, as well as a coalition of developed nations “that have pledged to release 10 percent of their vaccine purchases for poor nations,” the news service writes (10/12).

Recent Releases In Global Health

Lancet Comment Examines Efforts To Subsidize ACTs A Lancet comment examines an Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) program to help countries procure subsidized artemisinin-based combination treatments (ACTs). The authors write though it is worth celebrating the recent advances in malaria prevention, “these successes cannot hide the fact that close…

AP Examines H1N1 Surveillance By U.S., WHO

The Associated Press examines how the decision by U.S. health officials to stop counting new cases of H1N1 (swine flu) in July has complicated the government’s ability to assess groups particularly hard hit by the virus. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is relying on a patchwork system of gathering death and hospitalization numbers. Some states are reporting lab-confirmed cases. Others report illnesses that could be the new swine flu, seasonal flu or some other respiratory disease,” the news service writes.

U.S. Should Provide More Leadership In Finding TB Vaccine, Opinion Piece Says

Tuberculosis deserves an effort as “substantial” as the one mounted against swine flu “to develop a new vaccine,” David McMurray, a TB expert at Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, writes in a Houston Chronicle opinion piece. “Since April, … nearly one million men, women and children have died from TB, compared to 4,200 who have died from H1N1 flu globally. Why didn’t you see any headlines? Because 98 percent of the nearly two million people who die each year from TB live in the developing world, in places like Kenya … Yet TB continues to be a problem in [the U.S.] as well because in an age of globalization, germs cross borders without a passport,” McMurray writes.