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  1. #1
    heart on fire
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Researcher Says H1N1 Virus Probably Released Years Ago

    New Strain May Edge Out Seasonal Flu Bugs : NPR

    New Strain May Edge Out Seasonal Flu Bugs

    by Richard Harris

    "In one sense, it's one of the mildest shifts because most people on the planet have got some memory, have come across H1N1 viruses since 1978," Oxford says.

    Even though health officials are calling this new virus H1N1, that's also the type of virus that's in wide circulation today. And it has an interesting history. It was the dominant flu virus through the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Oxford says it disappeared in 1957, when it was displaced by another flu virus. But then a strain of H1N1 suddenly reappeared in 1977.

    "Now where could it have come from?" he asks. "We reckon now, in retrospect, it was probably released accidentally from a laboratory, probably in northern China or just across the border in Russia, because everyone was experimenting with those viruses at the time in the lab."

    It was nothing malicious, Oxford believes, just some flu vaccine research that broke out of containment. The descendents of this virus are still circulating. He notes that most people who have encountered the newly emerged H1N1 virus seem to have developed only mild disease, and he speculates that's because we have all been exposed to a distant cousin, the H1N1 virus that emerged in the 1970s.

    "That escaped virus perhaps will provide some benefit now in the face of this pig thing," Oxford says...More at link

  2. #2
    heart on fire
    Join Date
    May 2007


    Even more interesting when read with this:

    Quote Originally Posted by heart View Post
    Baxter admits flu product contained live bird flu virus

    Updated Fri. Feb. 27 2009 2:56 PM ET

    Baxter admits flu product contained live bird flu virus

    Updated Fri. Feb. 27 2009 2:56 PM ET

    The Canadian Press

    TORONTO -- The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses.

    And an official of the World Health Organization's European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International's research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.

    "At this juncture we are confident in saying that public health and occupational risk is minimal at present," medical officer Roberta Andraghetti said from Copenhagen, Denmark.

    "But what remains unanswered are the circumstances surrounding the incident in the Baxter facility in Orth-Donau."

    The contaminated product, a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses and unlabelled H5N1 viruses, was supplied to an Austrian research company. The Austrian firm, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then sent portions of it to sub-contractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany.

    The contamination incident, which is being investigated by the four European countries, came to light when the subcontractor in the Czech Republic inoculated ferrets with the product and they died. Ferrets shouldn't die from exposure to human H3N2 flu viruses.

    Public health authorities concerned about what has been described as a "serious error" on Baxter's part have assumed the death of the ferrets meant the H5N1 virus in the product was live. But the company, Baxter International Inc., has been parsimonious about the amount of information it has released about the event.

    On Friday, the company's director of global bioscience communications confirmed what scientists have suspected.

    "It was live," Christopher Bona said in an email.

    The contaminated product, which Baxter calls "experimental virus material," was made at the Orth-Donau research facility. Baxter makes its flu vaccine -- including a human H5N1 vaccine for which a licence is expected shortly -- at a facility in the Czech Republic.

    People familiar with biosecurity rules are dismayed by evidence that human H3N2 and avian H5N1 viruses somehow co-mingled in the Orth-Donau facility. That is a dangerous practice that should not be allowed to happen, a number of experts insisted.

    Accidental release of a mixture of live H5N1 and H3N2 viruses could have resulted in dire consequences.

    While H5N1 doesn't easily infect people, H3N2 viruses do. If someone exposed to a mixture of the two had been simultaneously infected with both strains, he or she could have served as an incubator for a hybrid virus able to transmit easily to and among people.

    That mixing process, called reassortment, is one of two ways pandemic viruses are created.

    There is no suggestion that happened because of this accident, however.
    "We have no evidence of any reassortment, that any reassortment may have occurred," said Andraghetti.

    "And we have no evidence of any increased transmissibility of the viruses that were involved in the experiment with the ferrets in the Czech Republic."
    Baxter hasn't shed much light -- at least not publicly -- on how the accident happened. Earlier this week Bona called the mistake the result of a combination of "just the process itself, (and) technical and human error in this procedure."
    He said he couldn't reveal more information because it would give away proprietary information about Baxter's production process.

    Andraghetti said Friday the four investigating governments are co-operating closely with the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Control in Stockholm, Sweden.
    "We are in very close contact with Austrian authorities to understand what the circumstances of the incident in their laboratory were," she said.
    "And the reason for us wishing to know what has happened is to prevent similar events in the future and to share lessons that can be learned from this event with others to prevent similar events. ... This is very important."

    Swine flu: Baxter seeks swine flu sample to begin work on vaccine --

    Swine flu: Baxter seeks swine flu sample to begin work on vaccine
    Deerfield-based Baxter has a speedier way to make vaccines than old method

    By Bruce Japsen | Tribune reporter

    3:34 PM CDT, April 27, 2009

    With world health officials worried about the global outbreak of another deadly virus, Deerfield-based Baxter International Inc. once again finds itself involved in the action.

    Baxter confirmed over the weekend that it is working with the World Health Organization on a potential vaccine to curb the deadly swine flu virus that is blamed for scores of deaths in Mexico and has emerged as a threat in the U.S.

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