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Call for better flu plans

20th November 2006

01052006_birdflu1.jpgExperts fear the UK is not exploiting scientific developments to their full to prevent a flu pandemic.

A report from the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences has warned the Government to reconsider its decision to stock only one anti-viral drug despite at least two  known cases where Tamiflu had not been effective.

The Government has begun stockpiling Tamiflu since early 2005 – with around 14.6 million courses of anti-viral drugs available in the advent of an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus. This would treat around a quarter of the population.

But the report has asked the Government to increase the stockpile and buy similar quantities of a second drug, Relenza, as well.

The report called for a special scientific advisor to work alongside the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser and advise ministers on planning for pandemic flu. The Government also needed to work more closely with the industry to develop vaccines, it said.

The Government should also consider using the drugs as preventative treatments, the report added.

Professor Lindsey Davies, government director of pandemic influenza preparedness said many of the recommendations in the report were being incorporated into the ongoing pandemic planning.

The current stockpile was adequate to treat any pandemic on a similar scale to that seen in the last century, she said.


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