The predominant flu strain in the United States this year is H3N2 according to the CDC. Often the circulating strain, often termed seasonal flu, is a global thing and vaccines are produced accordingly.
In the last three months of 2014 something odd happened, H1N1 swept across Australia. It’s odd because it wasn’t the strain of flu that had been predicted to hit the country. As in the USA, H3N2 was thought to be the strain that would dominate UK and Europe. As in 2009, the young and pregnant women were disproportionately affected by the 2014-2015 outbreak.
In February, The Telegraph ran an article stating that the UK government knew last year that the flu vaccine being produced for this year would be useless. It goes on to say that a ‘newly emerged virus’ was first detected in late March 2014 and that a new strain emerged in Australia in August of 2014. In the same month, Australia declared that they had detected sporadic cases of emerging H1N1 swine flu. This swept through the country, as I mentioned above. Emerging strain means that the virus is different, it has changed, mutated from the form it had in 2009.
The same virus is now hitting India.
The Indian government has banned public gatherings in some areas in an attempt to slow the H1N1 swine flu epidemic that has killed almost 1,000 people so far this year. More than 16,000 people have been sickened by the disease in Gujarat State alone and that figure is rising daily.
Although the government maintains that everything is under control, The Times of India, a well-respected newspaper in Asia is reporting that doctors cannot get enough anti-viral medication to treat their patients or even their own family members.
“At least three from my family have the flu. I haven’t been able to get medicines. My hospital has run out of Tamiflu,” said a doctor of a private hospital.He added: “It’s important to ensure no misuse of the drug and the state must ensure the needy get medicines.”
According to the CDC, H3N2 is the most widespread flu virus in the United states this year. The website states:
All of the 2014-2015 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:
an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus.
an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus.
a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
Note the word ‘like’. Not the same as, not identical, a H1N1 like virus. A H3N2 like virus. A B/Massachusetts like virus.
A different section of the CDC website states the following:
Flu viruses are constantly changing and it’s not unusual for new seasonal flu viruses to appear each year. These are viruses that have small antigenic or genetic changes but which have evolved from previously circulating human seasonal flu viruses. When viruses change in that way, they are said to be “drifted” viruses. Most of the influenza A (H3N2) viruses circulating so far this season are different (drifted) from the H3N2 vaccine virus component. (emphasis added)
They have admitted that the vaccine components are different to the circulating strain of flu this year yet still, they are pushing people to have a shot that will not protect them against the vast majority of this years circulating strains.
ABC News reported back in January that only 31% of the H3N2 viruses in circulation were covered by this year’s flu shot but recorded ‘experts’ as saying it was still wise to have the injection because it was ‘better than nothing’.
What happens if H1N1 hitches a ride to the US from India? Sporadic outbreaks have already occurred in Turkey, Russia and The West Bank.
You may remember that when ‘swine flu’ first hit it was spring, which is unusual for a flu virus. H1N1 doesn’t mind the warmer weather. The danger here is that we go from a regular seasonal flu period into an irregular flu season that takes us through the spring and summer, as in 2009…and then back to the winter flu season late this year and into 2016.
As more people are infected with a flu virus, immunity towards future outbreaks of the same strain is conferred. Although the Indian government is saying that there has been no drift or mutation in the H1N1 that is currently sweeping through their cities, this is most likely incorrect, flu viruses mutate all the time. The fact that India is recording such high death rates in certain areas, areas that were exposed to previous waves of H1N1, indicates that there has indeed been a level of change in the virus.
It’s unlikely that this year’s vaccine would cover a drifted form of H1N1, just like it doesn’t cover the vast majority of H3N2 strains currently sickening thousands across the country. Estimates from the UK suggest that just 3% of those given this year’s seasonal flu vaccine are afforded protection from circulating strains of influenza.
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!