Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Strain Of Bird Flu In Egypt Shows Strong Resistance To Anti-Viral Drug

The world's chief weapon in the fight against human bird flu infections may be just as good a useless.

This new comes after countries around the world, including some of the poorest, spent billions stocking up and commiing to massive orders of the anti-viral Tamiflu.

Two words : Oh, shit.

Former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld infamously made more than $5 million from his investments in the one the US-based companies that developed the anti-viral.

From the New York Times :

A strian of avian flu that is resistant to the antiviral drug oseltamivir has been isolated from two family members in Egypt, the World Health Organization said yesterday.

The development is potentially dangerous because oseltamivir, commonly sold under the name Tamiflu, is the chief weapon against the flu strain, H5N1, which many worry could mutate into a strain that could set off a worldwide pandemic.

The health organization emphasized that it was too early to tell whether the resistant strain had developed independently in the two patients, who were both under treatment with the drug, or whether they had picked it up from birds or from each other. The resistant strain did not spread to anyone else, including a third family member who also had avian flu.

Mr. Thompson was unsure which Egyptian cluster of flu infections the patients were part of. But another source said it was one in Gharbiya Province, roughly 50 miles north of Cairo, in which flu killed three people last month in a 33-member family living in one compound.

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