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Studies Examine Strategies Against Flu Pandemics

Two studies evaluate vaccination, antivirals for current pandemic, possible influenza A (H5N1)

TUESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccinating against H1N1 earlier this fall may save more money and avert more deaths than vaccinating later in the season, and expanded adjuvanted vaccination and antiviral prophylaxis could be beneficial in an influenza A (H5N1) pandemic, according to two studies published online Oct. 6 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Nayer Khazeni, M.D., of the Stanford University Medical Center in California, and colleagues developed a model of progression of the 2009 pandemic to compare the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of vaccinating in October or November compared to no vaccination in a hypothetical large U.S. city. October vaccination might result in 2,051 averted deaths, 69,679 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained, and savings of $469 million. For November vaccination, these outcomes would be 1,468 deaths averted, 49,422 QALYs gained, and $302 million saved.

In the second study, Khazeni and colleagues modeled an influenza A (H5N1) pandemic to assess three mitigation strategies: use of vaccination and antivirals at a level similar to what's available in current U.S. stockpiles; expanded supplies of antiviral drugs; and expanded supplies of adjuvanted vaccine. Compared to no intervention, the stockpiled approach would avert 44 percent of infections and deaths, expanded prophylaxis would delay the pandemic and avert 48 percent of infections and deaths, and expanded vaccination -- the most effective approach -- would avert 68 percent of infections and deaths.

"Although heightened public awareness of H1N1 this year and H5N1 in the last few years has increased attention to influenza, vaccination rates for seasonal influenza have been disappointing," write the authors of an accompanying editorial. "Health care professionals must take advantage of this heightened public awareness to educate and vaccinate a larger proportion of the population, not only for H1N1 this season, but especially for seasonal influenza, which has thus far killed far more people."

Abstract - Study 1
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Abstract - Study 2
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