Australia creates a new phase: “Protect”

18 06 2009

Australia has done something very interesting yesterday and created a new phase in their (till then) six level pandemic response system. The Government has created the new phase (called Protect) to cope with the fact that, so far, Swine Flu, while being wide-spread and spreading, is only a “mild” virus. (Everyone seems to have designed their phases with Bird Flu in mind, and are now having to re-think!).

The result of going to protect is that the national stockpile of Tamiflu won’t be used to treat people – unless they are in an at-risk group. This addresses two of the concerns that readers of this blog have raised in the past:

  • The “wasting” of Tamiflu on patients who will get better, at about the same pace, anyway.
  • And the risk of creating a Tamiflu resistant strain of Swine Flu because of the level of Tamiflu in the community.

ABC radio’s PM program has a great report on this. You can listen to it, or read the transcript, here.

Postscript: Avian Flu Diary has a great take on this change here and H5N1 looks at the Government’s announcement here.

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2 responses

19 06 2009
sunny

How can you create a Tamiflu resistant swine flu virus by giving Tamiflu to someone who does not have the virus? Surely, in order to become resistant to Tamiflu the virus must encounter the medication. If the person has not got the virus then it doesn’t matter how much Tamiflu they get….the virus gets none! Treating non flu patients with Tamiflu is a waste of an expensive drug and exposes the patient to the risks of the drug with no possibilty of benefit but logically, cannot cause resistance in the virus…. in the abscence of the virus.

19 06 2009
aussieflublogger

Hi Sunny.

Agree 100%. I’m not being clear in the post – just summarising the argument Dr Danko made. His point was that if a person being treated with Tamiflu, who didn’t have the virus, then suddenly gets exposed to the virus towards the end of their treatment, then there’ll be traces of Tamiflu in their system, which might be enough to cause resistance as the virus deals with this. I guess it’s just a percentage game. The more Tamiflu needlessly out there, the more chance of that happening.

Cheers

Nick

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