I just came across the following article in The Scientist. It made me say, are you serious!?!?!
The Scientist: NewsBlog:
Test a vax, fly to Mexico
Posted by Jef Akst
[Entry posted at 6th January 2010 03:00 PM GMT]
Want to go to Central America for free? All it takes is your participation in a clinical trial for a diarrhea vaccine. A patch worn on the arm can earn you a complimentary trip to one of nine cities in Mexico and Guatemala, courtesy of Intercell AG.
The Austrian drug company is recruiting 1800 volunteers for the phase III clinical trial of a vaccine against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli -- a major cause of traveler's diarrhea, which affects about 20 million visitors to countries such as Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as illness in more than 200 million children living in those countries each year. If approved, it would be the first vaccine for traveler's diarrhea available in the US.
A couple years ago, we looked at the question of how researchers and companies decide on compensation for subjects' participation in clinical trials. But the trip offered by the Austrian company seems to be an entirely new recruitment tactic, the BMJ reports.
Intercell joined forces with Inclinix, Inc., a North Carolina-based clinical trial enrollment solutions provider, to devise a strategy including partnerships with major travel and tourism websites, as well as a variety of social networking outlets, including Twitter and YouTube. "Social communication avenues allow Inclinix to reach a unique audience," Diane Montross, director of patient recruitment for Inclinix, told Medical News Today. "We are defining the next patient recruitment landscape."
In addition to the flight to Central America, participants will receive at least six nights of three star accommodations, pre-paid mobile phones, welcome kits with useful travel tools, and $1,500 in cash upon completion of the study. Participants will be given either the active vaccine or a placebo before travel, give blood within 48 hours of arrival, keep a stool diary throughout their trip, and provide additional blood and stool samples if they develop diarrhea.
For more information go to the TREK Research Study site.
The first 2009 H1N1 vaccines are starting to arrive in Minnesota. So I'm wondering, will you be vaccinated? How about your kids? A national study out of the University of Michigan says only 40% of parents plan to get their kids vaccinated. Why? I think Michael Specter sums it up best in a New Yorker article:
In fact, the new H1N1 virus is similar to seasonal flu in its severity. In the United States, influenza regularly ranks among the ten leading causes of death, infecting up to twenty per cent of the population. It kills roughly thirty-five thousand Americans every year and sends hundreds of thousands to the hospital. Even relatively mild pandemics, like those of 1957 and 1968, have been health-care disasters: the first killed two million people and the second a million.
We are more fortunate than our predecessors, though. Scientists produced a vaccine rapidly; it will be available within weeks. And, though this H1N1 virus is novel, the vaccine is not. It was made and tested in exactly the same way that flu vaccines are always made and tested. Had this strain of flu emerged just a few months earlier, there would not have been any need for two vaccines this year; 2009 H1N1 would simply have been included as one of the components in the annual vaccine.
Meanwhile, the virus has now appeared in a hundred and ninety-one countries. It has killed almost four thousand people and infected millions of others. The risks are clear and so are the facts. But, while scientists and public-health officials have dealt effectively with the disease, they increasingly confront a different kind of contagion: the spurious alarms spread by those who would make us fear vaccines more than the illnesses they prevent.
I'm planning on getting the vaccine if I can and I'll make sure my kids get the vaccine. It is all about the risk vs. benefit for me. What are your plans and why?
October is almost here, and so are more than 3 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine. The vaccine is a the FluMist nasal spray type which is inhaled rather than injected. The nasal spray contains a weakened live virus, while injections contain killed and fragmented virus. The inhalation method gives a stronger immune reaction and is not recommended for pregnant women, people over 50 or those with asthma, heart disease or several other problems. The earlier than expected delivery will be be great for people in other high-risk groups though (health care workers, people caring for infants, and healthy young people).
In the United States a typical flu season is believed to kill about 36,000. The Asian flu of 1957 was blamed for the deaths of about 70,000 Americans. The pandemic H1N1 or 2009 H1N1 flu (we are not supposed to call it the swine flu) so far has not been bad. Flu activity is now “widespread” in 21 states, up from 11 a week ago. (Read more here - New York Times)
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Sept. 15 that it has approved four vaccines against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. The vaccines will be distributed nationally after the initial lots become available, which is expected within the next four weeks.
As with any medical product, unexpected or rare serious adverse events may occur. The FDA is working closely with governmental and nongovernmental organizations to enhance the capacity for adverse event monitoring, information sharing and analysis during and after the 2009 H1N1 vaccination program." FDA News Release
Before giving H1N1 flu vaccinations to millions of people, clinical trials are needed. What is an effective dose for people of various ages and body types. What are the side effects.
Clinical trials are showing that the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine protects with only one dose instead of two. This is very good news. The vaccinations can be given to twice as many people at half the cost.
"Healthy adults got one 15-microgram shot, and their blood was tested 21 days later. By that time, 97 percent of the 120 adults had enough antibodies to be considered protected."
“This is definitely a big deal,” said Dr. John J. Treanor, a vaccine expert at the University oRochester. “People had been planning for a scenario that would require two doses.” New York Times
The vaccinations are proving to be effective only 8-10 days after being administered. This may allow all 159 million people in the high risk group (pregnant women, people under 24 years old or caring for infants, people with high-risk medical conditions and health-care workers) to be protected before the swine flu reaches its expected mid-winter peak.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) News statement: "Early Results from Clinical Trials of 2009 H1N1Influenza Vaccines in Healthy Adults".
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she will announce Monday that Washington has approved another billion dollars to buy components of the vaccine. Sebelius said on Sunday that research is under way to provide a safe and effective vaccine to fight a flu strain that could be a pandemic." Associated Press via Yahoo News
The latest information from Pandemicflu.gov explains the next steps toward an H1N1 influenza vaccine.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is directing nearly $1.1 billion in existing preparedness funds to manufacture two important parts of a vaccine for the Strategic National Stockpile, to produce small amounts of potential vaccine for research, and to perform clinical research over the summer. HHS press release
Vaccines work by tricking the immune system into thinking it has been infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus so that it creates antibodies against it. The vaccine is a hybrid of the virus which is similar enough that our immune system will develop antibodies against a specific virus.
We are now starting step 4.
An adjuvant is an additive to a vaccine that helps to generate a stronger immune response to the vaccine. When using an adjuvant it is often possible to reduce the size of the vaccine dose and the number of doses needed. Special permission from the Food and Drug Administration will be needed for the adjuvants to be used, as neither one is currently approved for use in this country. Washington Post
"The federal government has given the vaccine industry $1.3 billion to spur a shift from growing the viruses in eggs to growing them in stainless steel tanks containing mammalian cells.
Such cell culture could shave a few weeks off the process, experts estimate, and would eliminate the need for millions of eggs on short notice. Some vaccines made in cells have been approved in Europe but not in the United States." New York Times
A new law in New Jersey and a new book brings vaccines into the news again. A New Jersey law now requires parents to get influenza vaccine for their preschool age children as well as other vaccines for their older school age children. For more detailed information read this article in the New York Times or review the requirements on the New Jersey Department of Health website.
I have to say that as a parent of small children, I want to know that the children they hang-out with all day have been vaccinated. Vaccines don't always produce the intended immunity and I don't want them getting sick with anything more serious than the usual infections. Actually I don't want them to get sick at all - but I can't control everything.
A new book written by Paul Offit, a pediatrician, called Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure defends vaccines. The book traces the history of autism theories and is widely supported by by pediatricians, autism researchers, vaccine companies and medical journalists. See this article for more information about the book. It sounds like it could be a great resource. We need to remember how bad some of these diseases are that we are trying to prevent. Many children have died from infectious diseases - I'm happy we can prevent many of them.
A study in Finland suggests that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects boys as well or better than it does girls. (The vaccine is currently licensed in the US for women ages 9-26. ) HPV causes less cancer in men than it does in women, but vaccinating boys could help protect them and their sexual partners against the virus. But the shot series is very expensive and public-health dollars are always scarce, so a recommendation that boys be vaccinated may be a while in coming.
Courtesy paul+photos=moodyLet’s be careful how we put our words together, everybody.
I mean, when I get dressed in the morning, I know that I want to get underwear, socks, pants, and at least one shirt onto my body. However, if I were to forgo all rules of dressing order and arrangement, I might give off the wrong message: i.e., I’m crazy, and possibly dangerous to be around.
Why would I take any less care with my precious, precious words?
Because I’m pretty lazy, I don’t generally read most (any) of the articles on science that I come across every day. Instead, I read only the headlines. Or, better yet, I have them read to me—that way I can rest my head on my desk while I’m taking in the news. It’s very important, then, that all headlines are clearly worded. Otherwise I could dictate a Science Buzz post that is even more factually inaccurate than my posts normally are. That’s dangerous territory.
I looked at that headline, saw the word “vaccine” in the body, and thought, “Oh, snap! Vaccines do cause autism?” Because, that’s what parents’ are afraid of, after all.
Nope. The existence of parents’ fear and confusion over autism is what has been confirmed here. The actual connection between vaccinations and autism remains non-existent.
A recent study found that a significant percentage of parents still believe that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine can cause autism, or are at least uncertain and fearful that such a connection does exist. This is despite the fact that scientists can establish no connection between early childhood vaccines and the development of autism.
The fear that early childhood vaccinations lead to an increased risk for autism originated from a 1998 study that linked autism to a particular mercury-based preservative in the MMR vaccine. It was later revealed that the study was based on bad research, and it was retracted by most of its authors and disowned by its publisher. In 2001, manufacturers of the MMR vaccine began removing the preservative from their vaccines anyway—and that’s probably not a bad thing, but it hasn’t led to any decrease in the occurrence of autism. And people are still worried about the vaccine anyway.
This confusion wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that the better-safe-than-sorry attitude towards not having children vaccinated has led to a resurgence in diseases that had essentially been eradicated in areas where the vaccine is available.
We're back in business here at the Science Museum (although the building is still closed to the public until next Friday), just in time to report some good news.
The CDC reported yesterday that 77.4% of US children between the ages of 19 months and three years received all their recommended vaccinations in 2007. That's a slight improvement over the 2006 statistic. There are big regional variations in coverage, and children living below the poverty line are slightly less likely to be fully vaccinated, but overall less than 1% of US kids received no immunizations at all.
What are the recommended shots?
Some folks don't vaccinate their kids--particularly against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)--because they worry that the vaccine is linked to autism. That theory has been debunked many times, in many countries, but it persists. On Wednesday, researchers from Columbia University and the CDC offered up another study showing zero causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism (or gastrointestinal problems.) So kids, roll up your sleeves at those back-to-school physicals and get your shots. It sucks, but it beats getting measles.
On the other hand, evidence is mounting to show that flu shots don't work well to protect people over 70. Older people have a lesser immune response to the vaccine and don't develop as much immunity. But the very old and the very young also account for the highest number of flu deaths. So what to do? According to the NT Times article:
"Dr. Simonsen, the epidemiologist at George Washington, said the new research made common-sense infection-control measures — like avoiding other sick people and frequent hand washing — more important than ever. Still, she added, “The vaccine is still important. Thirty percent protection is better than zero percent.”
Another way to protect the elderly is to vaccinate preschoolers. Not only are they likely to pick up the flu before other members of the family, but there's some evidence that preschoolers are actually the drivers of annual influenza outbreaks. Stop the flu in young kids, and you might just stop it for everyone else, too.