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Obama Urges Americans To Take Precautions To Protect Themselves From H1N1

After a day of meetings with senior White House officials to discuss the U.S. preparations for H1N1 (swine) flu Tuesday, President Obama urged Americans to take the proper precautions to protect themselves from infection, the Associated Press/Boston Herald reports (9/1).

“I don’t want anybody to be alarmed, but I do want everyone to be prepared,” Obama said during remarks to reporters in the Rose Garden, the Hill writes (Youngman, 9/1).

“Obama [said] the federal government is taking a coordinated approach to fighting the expected outbreak, including ramping up what he says will be a ‘voluntary but strongly recommended’ H1N1 flu vaccination program,” the Washington Post writes (Fletcher, 9/1).

Though researchers continue to test the safety and efficacy of the H1N1 vaccine, “[o]nce it is deemed safe and effective, the government – which has bought 195 million doses – will ship the vaccine to state health departments in portions, starting with about 45 million doses in October,” the AP/Boston Herald writes (9/1).

VOA News Examines Plans For H1N1 Vaccine In Developing Countries

In related news, VOA News examines the possibility that developing countries will have to wait the longer than developing countries for H1N1 vaccines. The article includes comments by Ruth Karron, director of the Center for Immunization Research and the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative, who discusses how pharmaceutical companies will likely “fulfill their obligations to the wealthy nations” before making the vaccine available to developing countries and how such decisions could face criticism if the pandemic grows more severe (DeCapua, 9/1).

H1N1 Unlikely To Merge With Other Flu Strains To Create ‘Superbug,’ Study Finds

The H1N1 virus is unlikely to merge with other flu viruses to create a “superbug,” according to a study published Tuesday in PLoS Currents, Agence France-Presse reports. In the study, researchers co-infected ferrets with H1N1 and seasonal flu strains and “found that the virus does not readily combine with seasonal flu strains that could help foster a more virulent mutant flu,” the news service writes (9/1).

“Rather, the pandemic virus prevailed and out-competed the other strains, reproducing in the ferrets, on average, twice as much,” according to a University of Maryland/EurekAlert! press release (9/1).

Additionally, “[t]he animals who caught both kinds of flu … had worse symptoms,” the AP reports. “And they easily spread the new swine flu, what scientists formally call the 2009 H1N1 virus, to their uninfected ferret neighbors — but didn’t spread regular winter flu strains nearly as easily.”

“The results suggest that 2009 H1N1 influenza may out-compete seasonal flu virus strains and may be more communicable as well,” Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “These new data, while preliminary, underscore the need for vaccinating against both seasonal influenza and the 2009 H1N1 influenza this fall and winter” (Neergaard, 9/1).