U.S. H1N1 Cases Decreasing, CDC Says; HHS To Review Approach To Health-Threat Preparedness
The number of H1N1 (swine flu) cases in the U.S. appears to be decreasing, the CDC said Tuesday, CQ HealthBeat reports. “Flu was widespread in 32 states by the end of the week of Nov. 21, a decrease from 43 states in the prior week and 46 states earlier this fall, according to the CDC,” the news service writes. “At the same time, supplies of H1N1 vaccine doses slowly are building and itâ€™s expected the vaccine will be more widely available in the coming weeks” (Norman, 12/1).
The Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” reports that U.S.Â “health authorities have ‘a window of opportunity’ for preventing or minimizing another wave of infections in the coming months, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” (Maugh, 12/1).
In related news, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday she had requested a review of her department’s approach toÂ health-threat preparedness, “in part because the H1N1 vaccine shortage had highlighted the nation’s dependence on antiquated technology,” the Washington Post reports. Sebelius said she anticipates the review to be complete by “early next year,” according to the newspaper (Stein, 12/1).
“The goal [of the review], Sebelius said, will be streamlined regulations that will speed the approval of new technologies that are promoted through government contracts with private companies,” Reuters reports. “Sebelius said Dr. Nicki Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, would review the department’s countermeasures, which include vaccine development and contracts, drug development and stockpiling of supplies such as medical masks and ventilators,” according to the news service (Fox, 12/1).
WHO Approves H1N1 Vaccine, Paving Way For Developing Countries
Also on Tuesday, the WHO announced it had approved an H1N1 vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, “making it available for donors to buy for developing countries,” the Associated Press reports (12/1). “Glaxo said the move would ensure that millions of people in the developing world would have access to a life-saving vaccine,” Triangle Business Journal reports (John, 12/1).
News Outlets Examine Reports Of Increased H1N1-Related Deaths In China
Agence France-Presse reports on China’s growing number of deaths caused by H1N1 â€“ a number that “has tripled in the past two weeks after the government ordered more accurate reporting of fatalities amid suspicions of a cover-up,” according to the news service. “A statement posted on the health ministry’s website late Tuesday said the number of people reported killed by the influenza A(H1N1) virus had jumped to 178 at the weekend, up from a previously reported nationwide tally of 53,” but did not address why the spike had occurred, the AFP writes (12/2).
China Real Time Report/Wall Street Journal adds that during a briefing announcing the numbers of H1N1-related deaths Tuesday “authorities said they hadnâ€™t received any reports of H1N1-related cover-ups, but they described the current H1N1 situation as still ‘grim’” (Canaves, 12/2).