Saturday, May 23, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
"We were surprised by the frequency of obesity among the severe cases that we've been tracking," said Anne Schuchat, one of the CDC epidemiologists managing the outbreak. She said scientists are "looking into" the possibility that obese people should be at the head of the line along with other high-risk groups if a swine flu vaccine becomes available.
And it is entirely possible that there's something to that, though the article gives us no direct evidence to support it.
But if any such evidence exists, it certainly isn't to be found anywhere in the MMWR paper. And the paper's authors make no claim that it is, so don't blame them for the inaccuracy.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Dr. Gibbs, who had studied the gene sequences of the swine flu virus posted on public data banks, argued that it must have been grown in eggs, the medium used in vaccine laboratories. He reached that conclusion, he said, because the new virus was not closely related to known ones and because it had more of the amino acid lysine and more mutations than typical strains of swine flu.
His theory was reported by Bloomberg News on Tuesday. Even though scientists at theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention were skeptical and some prominent virologists openly derisive, news outlets have repeated and magnified the theory, adding speculation about bioterrorism that even Dr. Gibbs repudiated. He was also interviewed Thursday on the ABC News program “Good Morning America.”
Dr. Fukuda said a W.H.O. panel of experts had concluded that “the hypothesis does not really stand up to scrutiny.” The lysine residues and mutation rates were typical, he said, and many swine flus seem unrelated because not enough pigs are tested each year.
The article went on to make some astute points about the damage that misinformation like this has caused in the fight against diseases like AIDS and polio.
This is why the cultural expectation in science is that you publish, then pronounce. Or, in cases where the early dissemination of your research could save lives, that you at least get your work through the peer review process before typing up your press release.
Because science matters. Getting it wrong matters. Reducing the public's trust in the people working to protect them matters.
Dr. Gibbs should have known better.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
- Only 30% of Americans would get a vaccine against the H1N1 "swine flu" virus, if one were available.
- A whopping 38% of those surveyed managed to combine ALL of the following: Not vaccinated against the flu, not practicing good hygiene, and not restricting travel or mall shopping.
- "The same was true of 25% of health care workers polled, 28% of caregivers in nursing homes and 33% of those whose children are vulnerable due to asthma, diabetes, or HIV. Particularly concerning is that only 48% of these children were vaccinated." (emphasis added)
- These people all provide care to those who are at high risk of severe complications (including death) from "regular" seasonal flu.
- Are you forgetting the poor hygiene issue? Handwashing, good cough/sneeze etiquette, and the like are not just for special occasions. They save lives every day.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
- Making sure there is food in the house
- Contacting healthcare providers
- Helping provide care for children or other dependents
- Helping provide care for pets
- Contacting family members
- Picking up medicine from the pharmacy