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No, the CDC did not just apologize and admit that this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t work, part 2

fluvirus

It looks like this year’s going to be a bad flu season.

Hard as it is for me to believe, it was only five weeks ago when I discussed an announcement by the CDC that this year’s flu vaccine would likely be less effective because it isn’t a good match for the influenza strains in circulation this year. Those familiar with how the flu vaccine is developed every year know that the composition of the vaccine depends on the WHO’s choice of the three or four strains that its experts deem most likely to cause significant human suffering and death in the coming flu season. Basically, the WHO has to make an educated guess many months in advance about what strains will be circulating during next year’s flu season. When it guesses well, the flu vaccine is pretty effective. When it guesses poorly, not so much. Every year, even with the most careful deliberations going into making the choice of strains of flu virus to include in the vaccine, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot.

The reason is antigenic drift. This year, it just so happens that a strain of H3N2 is the predominant strain circulating in the population. Unfortunately, H3N2 has undergone drift, such that the strains in circulation now are different than the H3N2 strain chosen to be part of the flu vaccine and thus a poor match. The current H3N2 strains didn’t make an appearance until it was too late to alter the formulation of the flu vaccine, and they had increased greatly by September. Basically, only 48% of the circulating H3N2 strains causing most of the disease are a good match.

Unfortunately, yesterday we learned that this year it’s even worse than expected. When I said that the CDC didn’t just admit that this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t work, it was true. However, there’s no denying that this year’s flu vaccine has been quite disappointing as measured by a the CDC’s most recent study of vaccine effectiveness (VE), which the CDC has been carrying out each year since 2004. According to a press release from the CDC, year’s VE study revealed:

A report published in the January 16 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) estimates that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced a person’s risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by 23 percent among people of all ages.

Since CDC began conducting annual flu vaccine effectiveness (VE) studies in 2004-2005, overall estimates for each season have ranged from 10 percent to 60 percent effectiveness in preventing medical visits associated with seasonal influenza illness. The MMWR report says this season’s vaccine offers reduced protection and this underscores the need for additional prevention and treatment efforts this season, including the appropriate use of influenza antiviral medications for treatment.

“Physicians should be aware that all hospitalized patients and all outpatients at high risk for serious complications should be treated as soon as possible with one of three available influenza antiviral medications if influenza is suspected, regardless of a patient’s vaccination status and without waiting for confirmatory testing,” says Joe Bresee, branch chief in CDC’s Influenza Division. “Health care providers should advise patients at high risk to call promptly if they get symptoms of influenza.”

Note that, in this case, effectiveness means “real world” effectiveness, as compared to efficacy, which refers to how well a treatment does in a randomized clinical trial. Naturally, this news has produced headlines such as:

Well, you get the idea.

So how did the CDC come up with this estimate? This MMWR study tells the tale.:

Patients aged ≥6 months were enrolled when seeking outpatient medical care for an ARI with cough at study sites in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.* Study enrollment began once laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza were identified through local surveillance. Trained study staff members reviewed appointment schedules and chief complaints to identify patients with ARI. Patients were eligible for enrollment if they 1) were aged ≥6 months on September 1, 2014, and thus eligible for vaccination; 2) reported an ARI with cough and onset ≤7 days earlier; and 3) had not yet been treated with influenza antiviral medication (e.g., oseltamivir) during this illness. Consenting participants completed an enrollment interview. Nasal and oropharyngeal swabs were collected from each patient and placed together in a single cryovial with viral transport medium. Only nasal swabs were collected for patients aged <2 years. Specimens were tested at Flu VE laboratories using CDC’s real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) protocol for detection and identification of influenza viruses.

Participants were considered vaccinated if they received ≥1 dose of any seasonal influenza vaccine ≥14 days before illness onset, according to medical records and registries (at the Wisconsin site) or medical records and self-report (at the Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington sites). Vaccine effectiveness was estimated as 100% x (1 – odds ratio [ratio of odds of being vaccinated among outpatients with influenza-positive test results to the odds of being vaccinated among outpatients with influenza-negative test results]); odds ratios were estimated using logistic regression. Estimates were adjusted for study site, age, sex, race/ethnicity, self-rated health, and days from illness onset to enrollment. These early interim VE estimates for the 2014–15 season were based on patients enrolled through January 2, 2015.

To boil it down, the CDC enrolled patients who sought care for an acute respiratory illness with cough and determined what percentage of those who tested positive for flu and those who did not had been vaccinated. In essence, this is a prospective test-negative case-control design. Basically, controls were patients with a medically attended ARI who tested negative for the flu virus, while cases were patients who tested positive. The primary exposure of interest was, of course, the flu vaccine. The idea of this study is to determine whether a higher proportion of people who tested negative for the flu were vaccinated than those who tested positive.

One thing that should be pointed out. This study design does not answer the question that most people are interested in: If I get the flu vaccine, what by how much does it reduce my chances of getting the flu? Remember, this patient population consists of people who have an ARI with cough severe enough that they sought medical help for it. Of course, these people almost certainly don’t have the flu, given that by definition they have no symptoms. On the other hand this study says nothing about people with the flu or ARIs who don’t seek medical care, nor does it say anything about the ability of this vaccine to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Still, as a quick measure of effectiveness after the flu season is only halfway over, it’s not bad. Think of it this way. To determine the absolute efficacy of the flu vaccine would require following a huge number of people, vaccinated and unvaccinated, given that in an average flu season around 2% of the population will get the flu, and seeing who does and doesn’t get the flu that year. To reliably detect, say, a 50% reduction in flu would require thousands of people. Under the CDC’s study design, of people showing up at a clinic during flu season, many more will actually have the flu; so a determination of flu vaccine effectiveness can be made with a lot fewer people.

In this case, there were 2,321 children and adults with AR enrolled in the various study sites, and 950 (41%) tested positive for the influenza virus by PCR. Among patients who tested positive for the flu, 49% had been vaccinated, while 56% of who tested negative were vaccinated. After the CDC adjusted for study site, age, sex, race/ethnicity, self-rated health, and days from illness onset to enrollment, the VE against medically attended ARI attributable to influenza A and B virus infections was 23% (CI = 8%–36%). Depending on age range, effectiveness ranged from 12% to 26%:

Another factor that influences how well the flu vaccine works is the age and health of the person being vaccinated. In general, the flu vaccine works best in young, healthy people and is less effective in people 65 and older. This pattern is reflected in the current season early estimates for VE against H3N2 viruses. VE against H3N2 viruses was highest — 26 percent — for children age 6 months through 17 years. While not statistically significant, VE estimates against H3N2 viruses for other age groups were 12 percent for ages 18 to 49 years and 14 percent for people age 50 years and older.

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine even during season’s when drifted viruses are circulating because vaccination can still prevent some infections and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalization and death. Also, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against three or four influenza viruses and some of these other viruses may circulate later in the season.

The bottom line, obviously, is that so far this season the flu vaccine isn’t the greatest. Still, it offers some protection and, given how safe the vaccine is, there’s no compelling reason not to get it.

Clearly, what is needed is a much better flu vaccine. No one has ever denied that. However, the fact that some years the vaccine is not very effective because the strains used to make the vaccine don’t match the circulating strains very well because the WHO guessed wrong last February doesn’t mean that vaccines don’t work. All it means is that this vaccine is not s good as many other vaccines because of the inherent difficulties involved in making an effective flu vaccine that are a consequence of its biology, specifically its ability to mutate that results in drift, such as what occurred this year.

It’s only about a month until the WHO has to pick the strains to include in next year’s flu vaccine. Certainly, the committee tasked with choosing the strains will include the drifted H3N2 strain, but who knows if that will be the dominant strain next year. One thing’s for sure: I don’t envy the people who have to come up with these recommendations. In years when the vaccine is good, there’s no glory and the antivaccine movement attacks their vaccine, but in years when it’s bad they can expect nothing but opprobrium directed at the vaccine without even the personal satisfaction of having produced a highly effective vaccine.

Certain viruses are just incredibly difficult to design effective vaccines against. Unfortunately, influenza is one of them. Just because its efficacy varies from year to year and this year appears to be significantly lower than average is not evidence that vaccines are harmful or don’t work. It’s just that this vaccine isn’t the greatest, something that’s always been acknowledged. Next year, it’s likely to be much better. Until a vaccine is developed that targets a relatively invariant part of the virus and is thus universal, this is likely to be the case. Fortunately, scientists appear to be getting closer and closer to a universal flu vaccine.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

477 replies on “No, the CDC did not just apologize and admit that this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t work, part 2”

Well, a so-called “universal” flu vaccine that could offer wide-ranging protection for up to 20 years is going into clinical trials later this year (the linked story headline is somewhat deceptive, as “soon a reality” is just hype at this point).

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/universal-flu-vaccine-reality-scientists/story?id=28167227

I was reading another abcnews.com story about the flu outbreaks so far this year, and came across a doozy of a link* at the end of the story, to “10 home remedies” that are supposed to help you beat the flu. #1 is garlic (well OK, I personally believe garlic is a terrific food/condiment that probably cures a bunch of things and eat a lot of it), but #10 is…a chiropractic adjustment!!!

Yep, you’re supposed to see the chiro when flu symptoms strike, and after a little wrench here or there, flu goes bye-bye. And here I thought chiropractic was only supposed to _prevent_ flu:

http://www.hhchiro.com/chiropractic-care-colds-flu/

The limited effectiveness of flu vaccine this year should be a boon to quacks of all stripes. People are probably noticing that none of the people pushing these magical remedies are admitting to only 23% effectiveness, so why not give them a try?

*I would have provided the link, but it mysteriously vanished after I looked at the article. Either abcnews.com got complaints, or it just vanished into the void due to the Giant Pharma Lizard conspiracy.

Dangerous Bacon, the idea of suggesting people go out while having the flu for anything other than something absolutely necessary horrifies me.

{Heck, when I was a grad student, flu seasons meant the Health Center had rules about handling respiratory infections so those students could get help while minimizing the chances they’d transmit whatever they had. One of those rules was a reminder of when to stay home.)

If non-seriously ill flu patients are going to go out seeking care, it’s probably better for them to visit the chiro’s office, as opposed to spreading the virus at emergency departments or physicians’ offices.

[email protected]: I can’t agree with you here. As tempting as it may be to give the chiropractic a taste of his own medicine, so to speak, there may be innocent parties there, too: kids who are accompanying a parent, kids who are themselves being treated (feel free to mock the parents in those cases, but leave the kids alone), and people who happen to be visiting the same office complex or strip mall where the chiro’s office is located.

Remember also that some people live alone (I am one such) or with no other able-bodied adults in the house. If I need anything while I’m sick, I’m the one who has to go get it. And there are situations where a hospital visit wouldn’t be needed if there were a second person available to care for the sick person, but the sick person can’t handle it without such help. I hope anybody in the latter category gets the treatment they need.

If chiropractic adjustment is listed as a home remedy, does that mean that the chiropractor makes house calls?

Hmmmm. I see you’ve been missing alot of work lately.

Well, I wouldn’t exactly say I was missing it……

It’s not a big TCM insert in Science, but I just ran across this item on GMOs:
Is Humanity Already Playing God With Its Precious Food Supply?
It’s a page that comes up as the first post on Gawker — being sponsored — in this case by the SyFy channel to promote a show called Helix. In light of the whole AAAS custom publishing thing, I noted an apparent similarity in that SyFy seems to have hired something called “Studio At Gawker” to produce the piece. So maybe there’s some larger collapse of editorial and advertising in publishing, and we’ll be seeing a lot more nakedly ‘bought’ content. Or not. Anyway, here are the first two paragraphs, to show how the copywriters are trying to leverage the GMO controversy into viewership for the show:

There is no denying that we are in the midst of a global food crisis, and that more than ever, there is a great disparity between the way classes of people are able to feed their families. Is this a natural evolution — an unavoidable result of humanity’s occupation of the earth? Or is human kind actually pushing itself further into a food crisis with the technologies they claim will help it?
In Syfy’s Helix, a cult is playing God with the global food supply, with potentially catastrophic effects. Although the show looks at a very specific instance of food supply manipulation, it makes one think — are the things humanity is already doing to control and change the food supply actually going to help us?

@Todd #7:

DIY Chiropractic: Throw self down the stairs. That’ll give the old spinal energy something to think about.

I’ll consider consulting SyFy for advice when a sharknado takes out my “manipulated” crops…

Relatively minor quibble: the change in the virus is called antigenic drift. Genetic drift is something different.

Of course, quibbling right back at ya: Ya can’t have antigenic drift without genetic drift. 🙂

In any case, the CDC appears to use the two terms more or less interchangeably:

Increasing the risk of a severe flu season is the finding that roughly half of the H3N2 viruses analyzed are drift variants: viruses with antigenic or genetic changes that make them different from that season’s vaccine virus.

So you’ll pardon my confusion. Also, who am I to argue with the CDC? 🙂 If I get a chance, maybe I’ll go back and change “genetic” to “antigenic or genetic,” to be in line with the CDC.

@sadmar: I don’t watch much television, so I’m not familiar with Helix. I don’t mind taking the stated premise as the basis for a science fiction story, as long as it’s clearly labeled as fiction. After all, pursuing the consequences of a “what if” scenario is one of the things science fiction is for. But if Helix is supposed to be about factual science, or even informed speculation based on factual science, then yes, that show is problematic.

There are reasons to be concerned about what’s happening to the food distribution network, and the possibility of deliberately induced famine. (We have seen examples of the latter already; the USSR in the 1930s is perhaps the most notorious example.) But that’s a separate issue from genetic manipulation of food. It’s also a matter of logistics and politics, not of science.

Helix is science fiction. Worrying overmuch about its premise as applied to the real world is rather like worrying about what The Andromeda Strain has to say about virology.

Yeah, the anti-vax crowd loves to hate on the flu vaccine as completely useless. They apparently can’t read the research or accept the reality that for a virus that mutates so readily that we haven’t yet nailed down a target that doesn’t change. Universal vaccine has been in the works for a long time now and I am ever hopeful but I want to see the trial data before I get my hopes up too high. Yeah I feel for those with no family/friends to help them out during an illness. My sister got what was probably norovirus and her coworkers ended up dropping off a care package of Gatorade, soup, and crackers on her doorstep.

Speaking of Helix, I saw the first episode. It started with an interesting premise, but quickly got lost in a see of absurdity.

@Kiiri

Universal vaccine has been in the works for a long time now and I am ever hopeful but I want to see the trial data before I get my hopes up too high.

It will be available in “5 to 10 years”.

Don’t have the data they got it from, but at the news conference in my state about the state of the flu season there was a comment that very often the viruses as the season wears on tend to differ from the early season strains and those strains are currently still a match for the vaccine.

Well, antigenic drift is when the targeted antigen, hemagglutinin (HA), changes a bit, such that it may no longer be recognized by antibodies against the parental HA.

Genetic drift is (essentially) evolution at random, i.e. in the absence of natural selection. The CDC site mentions genetic changes, but that’s not genetic drift.

I grant that antigenic drift might occur via genetic drift, but only when the changes in HA had no selective advantage for the virus. Certainly possible, but probably not the norm, in my guess. More likely is that changes in antigenicity spread in viral populations precisely because they do offer a selective advantage. they allow the virus to infect individuals whose immune systems would likely kill any virus with the previous version of HA. And if there’s a selective advantage (or disadvantage), it’s not genetic drift.

The point is that any TV show or commercial product is using the GMO controversy to promote viewership/sales, thus reproducing the ‘ant-GMO tropes’ to a wider audience.

Eric: I don’t watch TV either, and certainly not the SyFy channel, but I’d doubt Helix makes any ‘real’ claims to be “informed speculation based on factual science” in other than a typical sci-fi way, or is in any way problematic.

It’s not about anything on the network, it’s about the advertising. Would you be unconcerned if a re-release of The Andromeda Strain was being promoted by advertorials spreading Ebola paranoia in general circulation publications?

(sigh)

So maybe there’s some larger collapse of editorial and advertising in publishing, and we’ll be seeing a lot more nakedly ‘bought’ content.

Yes, this is happening. See John Oliver’s excellent, as always, video on native advertising.

I remember a stupid article that went viral on Facebook a while back claiming that Charles Shaw wine from Trader Joe’s is so cheap because the mechanized grape harvesting process throws all kinds of rodents and birds and whatnot in with the wine. I spent a lot of time debunking this (don’t nobody mess with my two buck Chuck) just based on its sheer implausibility before I noticed that it was actually “sponsored content” for a website called Quora that HuffPo had just decided to spew all over the Internet.

It’s no longer online, but you can find a CNBC report on it here.

@kaymarie
Don’t have the data they got it from, but at the news conference in my state about the state of the flu season there was a comment that very often the viruses as the season wears on tend to differ from the early season strains and those strains are currently still a match for the vaccine.

That’s what happened last year in NYS, with the matches being reversed. Started strong with H1N1, then that tapered, and in March the dominant strain picked up as Flu B, and actually rose to almost the same levels as H1N1. It maintained until the end of May, and I don’t think it was that great a match. Our widespread flu season lasted until 6/8!

Already my county is seeing a drop in Flu As. Best case: flu season ends early-ish after the big punch. More likely case, particularly with the crap winter, it picks up again. Hopefully B is a better match if the switch happens.

I’ve already had the flu! I had a fever of 102 and extreme weakness and muscle aches. Fortunately I was vaccinated and recovered enough to resume normal (non-strenuous) activities in about a week. I’m looking forward to being immune for the rest of the season.

@Todd W. #17 Re the universal flu vaccine:

It will be available in “5 to 10 years”.

You reminded me of a joke from computer science.
“Artificial intelligence is just 10 years away, and has been so for ober 50 years.”
😀

Orac writes,
“… given how safe the vaccine is, there’s no compelling reason not to get it.”

In contradiction, the flu vaccine (i.e., Flucelvax) from Novartis has the highlighted warning, “The tip caps of the pre-filled syringes may contain natural rubber latex which may cause allergic reactions in latex-sensitive individuals.”

In reality, you may be a latex-sensitive individual and you may get a flu-vaccine contaminated with natural rubber latex. Furthermore, you may not have latex-sensitivity but develop latex-sensitivity from this flu vaccine. In my opinion, these are compelling reasons not to get it.

Here comes the anecdote: I had the flu vaccine voluntarily for the first time this year and marched my husband and son for theirs too. Over Christmas, my entire work team went down like a sack of spuds and I was the only one left standing. I believe the office party had been the final opportunity to spread it around, what with all the exchange of fluids*. So I’m shilling for the flu vacc with extra enthusiasm now. Where’s my shillbucks?
*no, not that – cigars were passed round.

So Incoherent Troll cites Helix, then when Helix is is shot down, plays the old move-the-goalposts trick?

Please, proceed. You’re not exactly covering yourself in glory, but you are giving the casual reader a picture of yourself that is too accurate to redound to your argument’s benefit.

Todd @17, Julian @25: Another joke along those lines is that the universal flu vaccine is the vaccine of the future, and always will be.

We’ve never been as close as 5-10 years from having commercial fusion power, but it’s been 20 years out since the 1950s.

@Michael #26

Then there’s always other flu vaccines which do not have the latex issue – or even the nasal mist.

Again – still no reason to not protect yourself (and others) against the flu.

Darwy writes (#30),

“Then there’s always other flu vaccines which do not have the latex issue – or even the nasal mist.”

Yes, for adults that will make the flu vaccine safer!

Furthermore, flu vaccines that have the label “not made with natural rubber latex” will show that pharmaceutical companies are striving towards “do no harm”.

But, for some children this may not be enough due to their health (i.e., immune profile).

If a parent is concerned about giving their child a flu vaccine precautions such as a total white blood cell count can be evaluated to determine if their child’s immune system is typical or atypical. See:

http://www.pageturnpro.com/Autism-Media-Channel/61559-AF58_AutismFile_OctNov2014/index.html?mc_cid=cae790a9b5&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D#34

Great post @Orac. Regarding the (non-signficant) differences in VE with regards to age, could it be that children tend to get the live virus vaccine and adults receive the killed? Flu vaccines have always been problematic for those over 65 due to insufficient immune response, but that might explain the low VE for the 18-49 year olds.

The nasal mist is approved from the age of 2 up, and there are other flu vaccines on the market which do not contain any latex.

Darwy, did you see where the latex-fixated MjD provided a link to an article he wrote for the magazine published by Andrew Wakefield and Polly Tommey?

MjD’s son’s autism was not caused by latex in vaccine vial ports or latex in any medical product.

Bill Maher was stirring the shit again Friday claiming the flu the vaccine is a big pharma conspiracy for money. Even after the MD on his show politely but firmly disagreed and thoroughly refuted what he said, he continues to trumpet nonsense about the flu vaccine being ineffective, useless, and a big pharma scam.

lilady writes (#36),

“…there are three inactivated flu shots which do not contain latex. One of those three vaccines is approved for pediatric use”

Thank you lilady for this vaccine safety information!

@lilady,

Why do so many vaccines still contain natural rubber latex even though the allergens within are known to be harmful?

“Yes, for adults that will make the flu vaccine safer!”

Our health department has been giving flu mist to kids at least since I started working there.

My mother survived the Spanish flu and lived past 90 years old.
I have had flu about four times in my life but not since Bill Clinton still had his reputation intact.
I’ve never had a flu shot.
Maybe I just have a very high resistence to viruses.

PS
The word “verticle” means axis or hinge. An archaic term for suited to something that moves in a limited manner but goes nowhere .
Words like that pop up now and again.

“I hear it is 12% effective in those 18-49. LOL”

Where did you hear about 2014-2015 seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness for those ages 18-49 years old, Offal?

I don’t understand why you think “LOL” appended to your comment is appropriate.

Greg Young: “My mother survived the Spanish flu and lived past 90 years old.”

And at least one of my great-uncles did not. Thank you for minimizing the death of a child. Apparently you don’t care about those whose death make them unable to say how illness affected them.

I have had flu about four times in my life but not since Bill Clinton still had his reputation intact.
I’ve never had a flu shot.
Maybe I just have a very high resistence [sic] to viruses.

Sounds like rather the opposite.

PS
The word “verticle” means axis or hinge. An archaic term for suited to something that moves in a limited manner but goes nowhere .

Not-PS: Go put it in the original comments where it has context, rather than demonstrating that you are immersed in some sort of weird megalomaniacal fantasy.

I hear it is 12% effective in those 18-49. LOL

Hey, Bob, I’ve heard that you’re the author of two “soon to be published books, “LOL.”

Quick, Bullethead: What would 12% do to the even-odds over-time window? I’ve got a 3.87 year bonus.

Oh, wait, you’re a hit-and-run chickenshіt.

something that moves in a limited manner but goes nowhere .

Ah, a blog thread.

My mother survived the Spanish flu and lived past 90 years old.
I have had flu about four times in my life but not since Bill Clinton still had his reputation intact.
I’ve never had a flu shot.
Maybe I just have a very high resistence to viruses.

Maybe you are just a big talking, fantasizing idiot.

Oh.


Chris

January 19, 2015

Greg Young: “My mother survived the Spanish flu and lived past 90 years old.”

And at least one of my great-uncles did not. Thank you for minimizing the death of a child. Apparently you don’t care about those whose death make them unable to say how illness affected them.”
Too bad about your uncle.
Survivors didn’t always get off easy either, they left their stories so if you want to know how the illness affected them just look it up.
You shouldn’t minimize the lifetime of a person because you envy their longevity and have no sense of history.

The Spanish Lady pretty much ended WW1. Too many young adults in Germany died from it and the Germans had little choice but surrender.
They should get their act together now before that sort of pandemic strikes again.
If they intended to manufacture vaccines then they should find a way to make sure they are going to work before flu season starts rather than end up with this sort of failure.
If you expect faith in a product you should earn that faith.

1918 Flu Antibodies Resurrected From Elderly Survivors

Date:

August 18, 2008

Source:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Summary:

Ninety years after the sweeping destruction of the 1918 flu pandemic, researchers have recovered antibodies to the virus — from elderly survivors of the original outbreak. In addition to revealing the surprisingly long-lasting immunity to such viruses, these antibodies could be effective treatments to have on hand if another virus similar to the 1918 flu breaks out in the future.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080817223642.htm

I wonder what the odds are on a person who has never had a flu shot going two decades without contracting the more recent strains of flu?

As for mucking about with the food supply.
I wonder who’s bright idea it was to feed cattle animal tissue?
Before that you only heard of this sort of brain destroying disease among cannibals who ate uncooked human brains.

Probably the most pitiful way to die I’ve heard of, though I’m sure there are worse ways to go.

Greg Young,

I wonder what the odds are on a person who has never had a flu shot going two decades without contracting the more recent strains of flu?

Since about 2-5% of people will get influenza each season you can expect to get it every 20-50 years on average. Going 20 years influenza-free is par for the course, especially when you had the disease unusually frequently in the past. Older people do sometimes have resistance to circulating strains, such as the H1N1 strain in 2009.

Probably the most pitiful way to die I’ve heard of, though I’m sure there are worse ways to go.

Such as choosing incorrigible ignorance as a hill to die on?

Ah, Donchiak is back with his idee fixe, is he? 😉 I needed a chuckle on this gray Monday.

Latex works very well. Very few people are allergic to it. Therefore, the sensible approach is to ask people about their allergies before giving vaccines, and providing a small supply of latex-free alternatives. This is similar to the strategy for egg allergy, which is far more common and far more relevant to flu vaccine given that it’s usually grown in chicken eggs; people with egg allergy get the more expensive egg-free vaccines.

Not rocket science. Not brain surgery. This is easy stuff, but of course Donchiak struggles with it because somehow to him it validates his belief system. There are none so blind and those who tie the blindfold willingly.

Greg:

I wonder who’s bright idea it was to feed cattle animal tissue?

I have no idea, but feeding animal tissue to livestock goes back quite a ways. The first person to think of it is surely long dead. The modern practice is more institutionalized, but comes from the same basic root: thrift. If you want cheap meat, then you need to find cheaper ways to produce it. Cattle do need a certain amount of protein and fat in their diets, and while they can get this from grazing, adding some of the bits that slaughterhouses can’t sell otherwise efficient and economical. Thing is, this can transmit disease — there’s a reason cannibalism isn’t smart — but everybody figured there was no problem with that. Just don’t feed them *raw* stuff. Cook it to kill all the pathogens. Nobody realized there was one that cooking would not destroy: prions.

So the people who started doing that weren’t maniacs or crazy or careless. There was a whole class of pathogens they didn’t know about, and certainly didn’t realize would survive normal food safety protocols.


Krebiozen

January 19, 2015

Greg Young,

I wonder what the odds are on a person who has never had a flu shot going two decades without contracting the more recent strains of flu?

Since about 2-5% of people will get influenza each season you can expect to get it every 20-50 years on average. Going 20 years influenza-free is par for the course, especially when you had the disease unusually frequently in the past. Older people do sometimes have resistance to circulating strains, such as the H1N1 strain in 2009.”

Thank you , thank you very much (in my best Elvis Presley voice).
You’ve been helpful in the past which has not been par for the course for this site.
If any of my replies to you have seemed dismissive I want you to know it was unintended.

Would you agree that in this day and age with so many cases of TBI and PTSD due to the conflicts in Iraq and other places that most would prefer to show courtesy and understanding to an older person who suffers from Aphasia due to injury and complications from surgery?

I have noticed that some of the less civilized members here seem to use words as defined by “the Urban Dictionary”. One even managed to misspell one of those made up words while ragging on about my misspellings of real words.

The level of ignorance shown by some of both world history and recent events was shocking. Guess the internet has not been as beneficial to them as they suppose.


Calli Arcale

http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
January 19, 2015

Greg:

I wonder who’s bright idea it was to feed cattle animal tissue?

I have no idea, but feeding animal tissue to livestock goes back quite a ways. The first person to think of it is surely long dead. The modern practice is more institutionalized, but comes from the same basic root: thrift. If you want cheap meat, then you need to find cheaper ways to produce it. Cattle do need a certain amount of protein and fat in their diets, and while they can get this from grazing, adding some of the bits that slaughterhouses can’t sell otherwise efficient and economical. Thing is, this can transmit disease — there’s a reason cannibalism isn’t smart — but everybody figured there was no problem with that. Just don’t feed them *raw* stuff. Cook it to kill all the pathogens. Nobody realized there was one that cooking would not destroy: prions.

So the people who started doing that weren’t maniacs or crazy or careless. There was a whole class of pathogens they didn’t know about, and certainly didn’t realize would survive normal food safety protocols.”

Its refreshing you find that some here are interested in content rather than presentation. Thank you for your input.

As for vaccines, serums and immunization programs there were some real disasters in the early days of inoculation.
The Mandan people were pretty much wiped out by a misguided attempt to immunize them from Small Pox.
The serum was contaminated and deaths were from sepsis.

Thinking on the odds of infection it occurred to me that odds for an age group or a particular number of previous infections over many years doesn’t really work when it comes to a particular individual.
Being exposed to infection every year it seems to me that statistics and/or percentages aren’t really the answer.
There’s the old saying about lies, damn lies and statistics.

I’m thinking it might be more on the line of a build up of long lasting antibodies or the ability of the body to produce anti bodies that work best against recent strains.

The anti bodies associated with Spanish Flu seem to be of limited use against less lethal strains.

I just checked the CDC’s weekly flu update, the pediatric deaths due to influenza this year is now up to forty five.

PROTIP: If your own communications are snarky and snide in tone, it does not reflect well on you to clutch your pearls and moan “Ohh, you brute, how can you be so mean to a veteran, and one in such fragile health??” when people respond in a similar vein.


Antaeus Feldspar

January 19, 2015

PROTIP: If your own communications are snarky and snide in tone, it does not reflect well on you to clutch your pearls and moan “Ohh, you brute, how can you be so mean to a veteran, and one in such fragile health??” when people respond in a similar vein.”
I’m not a veteran, my TBI was not combat related.
The fact that so many of our troops have survived IED explosions has bought more attention to the effects.
As for my remarks ,Its called “responding in kind”.
If one wishes to denigrate someone because they reveal that they have a disability, then prove that they have no room to talk despite the appearance of health, they soon learn they may have to take it as well as dish it out.

I make no bones about my combative nature, but I have made my bones.

An inadvertent misstatement, such as becoming momentarily confused about the titles of two movies that had some significant similarities, is not a lie. To claim someone is posting lies and that the institution he mentioned living near is fictional ignores the intent and belief at the time of the person they have insulted.

There are two living witnesses to my meeting Anthony Quayle at the country club after a play at the Clarence Brown Theatre and there is a photograph of Quayle and myself standing side by side , its hanging on the wall of the study of a close friend.
Quayle spent a good deal of time in Knoxville as producer and director of a number of plays, some that ended up on Broadway. I’ve noticed that this information does not appear on some websites that skim over his career.
He listened to my criticism of his performance intently and with grace, I really liked that guy, very professional.

I’ve found a witness to the SAT test scores. I remembered a class mate that took the same 300 question aptitude test and found a similar placement examine with 300 questions is still in use.
I also found that the program they had offered was similar to the program used during WW2 to fast track the commissioning of the “90 day wonders” as they were called back then.

Now back to your regular programing.
I’ve lost interest in this thread already.

Ah. The heart of the problem is revealed.

Greg Young has a problem with certain people. These are people with whom he’s had previous conversations about “Anthony Quayle” and SAT scores, and he has grudges against them, based on perceived slights these people offered him in previous conversations.

I do not know why he is under the impression that those people are to be found here, but apparently he is.

Calli Arcale writes about natural rubber latex in flu vaccines (#54),

“Not rocket science. Not brain surgery. This is easy stuff…”

@Calli,

What can happen to some children when the 60+ antigenic Hev-b proteins in natural rubber latex leach into vaccine solutions and bind to aluminum hydroxide?

Of course you know the answer Calli Arcale:

Allergy-induced regressive autism

So someone with the nym ‘Phoenix Woman’ shows up in this thread and posts #28:

So Incoherent Troll cites Helix, then when Helix is is shot down, plays the old move-the-goalposts trick? Please, proceed. You’re not exactly covering yourself in glory, but you are giving the casual reader a picture of yourself that is too accurate to redound to your argument’s benefit.

No. Retired media studies Professor (and former professional copywriter) cites an advertising campaign for Helix and then when careless readers assume that the text of Helix has anything to do with it, attempts politely to correct their cluelessness about how media campaigns work and why they matter. Anyone who would assert that #9 establishes Helix as a goal-post that has subsequently been moved is a blithering idiot or a troll. Anyone who would assert that #20 establishes a picture of anyone is a blithering idiot or a troll. Hmm, which is it? Let’s see: “redound” and “casual reader” are in the same sentence, which claims I have failed to benefit my argument, after alleging I didn’t have an argument because I’d moved the goal-post, which moving ‘Phoenix Woman’ could not have discerned if my comment had, in fact, been incoherent. So, I’m going with ‘blithering idiot troll’!

Wait. How can anyone justify this epidemic in a highly vaccinated US population? The CDC’s excuse is pure crapola. People should learn the horrible history of vaccination because it’s bound to repeat.

H1N1 (which is old news): “How can anyone justify this epidemic in a highly vaccinated US population?”

What epidemic? And exactly how is less that 50% coverage for influenza vaccine considered “highly vaccinated”?

“People should learn the horrible history of vaccination because it’s bound to repeat.”

What particular horrible history?

Well, there was the Spanish Flu, which killed over 1 Million Americans (and tens of millions worldwide), because we didn’t have vaccines at the time.

What epidemic? And exactly how is less that 50% coverage for influenza vaccine considered “highly vaccinated”?

Well, I’ve seen a lot of sick patients in my area who came down with influenza (lab-tested) were previously vaccinated against the flu, yet they still got the flu. What gives?

And then I found this:

The herd immunity thresholds in terms of prevalence of protected persons required to establish herd immunity (Ic) ranged from 33% to 73% for the first pandemic viruses and from 9% to 29% for the 2009–10 pandemic and the 2008–09 epidemic viruses (Table 1).
The vaccination coverage that would have been required to establish herd immunity for previous influenza viruses ranged from 0% to 100%, depending on vaccine effectiveness, setting and the prevalence of persons already protected in the population (Table 2).

The vaccination coverage required to establish herd immunity against influenza viruses

Methinks the vaccinated are the real source of this epidemic. Remember what happened to the measles vaccine and how the second dose came about? It’s not because of the low primary immunization rate but rather the many vaccinated who got reinfected (vaccine failure), thus creating the epidemic.

“Well, there was the Spanish Flu, which killed over 1 Million Americans (and tens of millions worldwide), because we didn’t have vaccines at the time.”

Wait. Spanish flu occurred in 1918 and the last time I checked transmission-based precaution was not established until 1970. Oh I am pretty those genius doctors then knew how to take care of flu patients.

Now hold on a second. Please elaborate.

It’s not because of the low primary immunization rate but rather the many vaccinated who got reinfected (vaccine failure), thus creating the epidemic.

This is unclear.
Do you mean that a number of people who considered themselves protected nonetheless got the flu?
Which is what “vaccine failure” means to me

Or do you mean that the vaccine was giving them the flu?
Which, considering that most flu vaccines (exception is flumist) only contain dead viruses, would be quite a feat. Even Jesus did’t realize this type of resurrection.

In the first case, the exact same stuff would have happened if these people haven’t been vaccinated.

Wait – by transmission-based precautions? You mean, “quarantines” which have been in use pretty much since the dawn of human history?

Your statements also fly in the face of basic science.

What epidemic?

Influenza is annually epidemic.

Methinks

Given the catastrophe that followed, I suggest that you avoid such anachronisms.

transmission-based precaution was not established until 1970

The term “quarantine” is a bit older than the 70’s. Or the 20th century.
So are other “transmission-based precaution”.

those genius doctors then knew how to take care of flu patients.

That was a bit of a cheap shot.
They did that they can, based on that little knowledge and science available at that time.
You joke, but some 19th-century physicians and nurses were indeed geniuses, to manage to do so much with so little.

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