2 Studies Question the Effectiveness of Flu Vaccines/NY Times

From the NY Times, Sept. 21, 2005 –

Just as governments around the world are stockpiling millions of doses of flu vaccine and antiviral drugs in anticipation of a potential influenza pandemic, two new research papers published today have found that such treatments are far less effective than previously thought.

“The studies published today reinforce the shortcomings of our efforts to control influenza,” wrote Dr. Guan Yi, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, in an editorial that accompanied the papers…
In one paper, international researchers analyzed all the data from patient studies on the flu vaccine performed worldwide in the past 37 years and discovered that vaccines showed at best a “modest” ability to prevent influenza or its complications in elderly people.

The current bird flu virus does not spread easily – if at all – from human to human, and so has little potential to become a worldwide human scourge. But the World Health Organization has warned that it could acquire that potential through a couple of common biological processes, and that countries should prepare for a possible wave of serious influenza…

In people over 65, the vaccines “are apparently ineffective” in the prevention of influenza, pneumonia and hospital admissions, although they did reduce deaths from pneumonia by “up to 30 per cent.”

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