Posted by: kenwbudd | July 16, 2009

H1N1 Pandemic in UK: Sudden Increase in Cases

Around 40,000 people a week in England and Wales now complaining of 'flu-like illness'
GPs have seen a leap of almost 50% in the numbers of people contacting them with fears they have swine flu in the last week, new figures reveal.

Around 40,000 people a week in England and Wales are now complaining to their doctor of “flu-like illness”, with a dramatic rise in the number of young children being affected.

The Royal College

The figures, from the Royal College of GPs’ monitoring system, showed 50.3 people per 100,000 were reporting flu-like illness between June 29 and July 5, but this leapt by 46% to 73.4 people per 100,000 between July 6 and 12.

Financial Times

Almost one in eight workers are likely to be kept at home with the virus in the next few weeks, according to Government figures. This could leave many businesses struggling to run as normal, the Financial Times reported.
Sir Liam Donaldson is expected to announce that 30% of the population is likely to be infected during this first wave of the pandemic, the FT newspaper said.
Young at most Risk
Wednesday’s weekly report from the Royal College of GPs said: “National incidence of influenza-like illness increased for all regions and is now evident in all age groups but remains highest in five to 14 age groups.”
Central England Hotspot
The study said the highest number of cases was being seen in central England but the North had seen “a marked increase compared to previous weeks”.
There has been a small decrease in the number of cases being seen in London although the capital remains a major hot spot for the virus.
The rate of influenza-like illness is highest among those aged five to 14, at 159.57 per 100,000 population. The next most affected group is youngsters and babies aged up to four, at 114.12 per 100,00 population. This is followed by people aged 15 to 44, those aged 45 to 64 and then people aged 65 and over.
Ant-viral Vaccine
The Government has insisted that the swine flu vaccine should begin arriving at the end of August, amid genuine fears of a delay in this delivery date, and further delay before people receive jabs.

The UK claims, it is in line to get around 60 million doses of the vaccine – enough to cover half the population – by the end of December, with the rest of the doses following next year.

Vaccine Production Delayed
This is a substantial turn around in their earlier claims and the first phase of the virus should have run its course by then. The mutated second phase will take over and the vaccine will be ineffective against it.

Virus Dictates Timeline
It is impossible to determine how the H1N1 virus will mutate, so scientists are unable to prepare in advance for this strain. Only when the new strain is identified will they be able to start on development of a new anti-viral vaccine.

So, the development, testing and distribution of a second antiviral vaccine will need to start after January 2010 and is therefore unlikely to be in production before the Spring 2010.


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