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U.S., Mexico, Canada Vow To Work Together Against H1N1

President Obama together with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper “vowed on Monday to fight the spread of the H1N1 swine flu,” during their summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, Reuters reports. “Facing the possibility of a resurgence in the H1N1 virus this autumn likely to lead to more deaths, the three leaders pledged that their governments will share information and try to instruct their peoples on how to prepare,” the news service writes. “H1N1, as we know, will be back this winter,” Calderon said. “We are getting prepared, all three countries, to face in a responsible manner this contingency and abate its impacts for our people” (Holland/Zengerle, 8/10).

VOA News reports that Obama said, “With science as our guide, we resolve to continue taking all necessary preparations and precautions to prepare for the upcoming flu season, and protect the health of our people. This challenge transcends borders, and so must our response.”  Harper called for building upon the region’s exisiting efforts, adding, “The excellent cooperation among our three countries was effective in helping to manage the initial outbreak, and we will continue our cooperative efforts” (Klein, 8/10).

USA Today, NPR Report On ‘Fast-Track’ H1N1 Vaccine Trials In U.S.

USA Today reports on the ongoing “fast-track” H1N1 flu vaccine trials in the U.S. “that will grow to include 11,131 adults and 5,740 children, with more trials planned” (Sternberg, 8/10). “The tests are being done quickly, in a race to have something available before a possible fall outbreak,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” reports, in a piece that examines participants in an H1N1 vaccine trial at the University of Baltimore, one of eight sites in the country that began offering volunteers the H1N1 vaccine Monday (Silberner, 8/10). USA Today writes, “If [the H1N1 vaccine proves] effective, the vaccine will begin to be available to the general public in mid October” (8/10).

BMJ Study Says Antivirals Of Little Benefit To Children

In related news, a British Medical Journal study published Monday showed the antivirals Tamiflu and Relenza – the drugs currently being used to help reduce the severity and spread of H1N1 – fail to reduce complications from flu in children and expose them to the drugs’ side effects, the BBC reports. “Although they did not test this in the current swine flu pandemic, the authors say these drugs are unlikely to help children who catch the H1N1 virus,” the news service writes (8/10). “The analysis was based on a systematic review of seven clinical studies looking at use of Tamiflu and Relenza in seasonal flu outbreaks in 2,629 children aged 1 to 12 years,” Reuters writes (Hirschler, 8/10).

The Financial Times interviews Liam Donaldson, a chief medical officer, who “said the study on drugs in children was limited in its scope, tentative in its conclusions and not directly comparable to the current [H1N1] situation.” He said, “Antivirals are the only available weapon, albeit imperfect, against the virus until a vaccine is developed and ready for use.” Donaldson added, “Like all drugs, they can have side-effects in some people” (Jack, 8/10).

Cases of H1N1 In Saudi Arabia, Growing Concern About H1N1 In India

IRIN reports on a recent WHO report revealing “Saudi Arabia has the highest number of laboratory confirmed pandemic H1N1 cases in the Eastern Mediterranean Region – 595 – with four out of the eight deaths so far” (8/11).

Forbes examines how an uptick in the numbers of people dying from H1N1 in India is increasing public fear. “The creeping death toll has caused a panicky populace to flock to government-run hospitals to get themselves screened for the virus,” Forbes writes. The article includes information on the closing of schools and some businesses in the cities of Mumbai and Pune (Karmali, 8/11).