H1N1 Articles: Lots of "Gaps"
Sort of like JFK's "missile gap" or George C Scott's "mine shaft Gap" in Dr Strangelove? We also seem to have a "Vitamin D gap."
US has vaccine credibility gap
New York Times / October 26, 2009
Earlier this month, the US government was forced to announce that only about 28 million doses of H1N1 vaccine would be available by the end of this month, about 30 percent below the 40 million it had previously predicted. That is not enough to satisfy people who are lining up for vaccinations around the country or desperately phoning their doctors and public health departments.
Since the outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu occurred in April, federal projections have been consistently and wildly overoptimistic and have had to be ratcheted down several times. As recently as late July, the government was predicting having 160 million doses by this month.
The reasons for the receding estimates start with the fact that the H1N1 virus is not growing as fast as expected in the eggs used to produce vaccine. Moreover, some manufacturers did not even know how little they were producing until a vaccine potency test became available around August, federal officials say.
Federal officials argue, and some experts agree, that the government did a good job in rapidly marshaling suppliers of vaccine for the flu pandemic.
But, these experts say, the government’s accomplishments and its credibility are being undermined by overly rosy projections that did not take account of the vagaries of vaccine production, making it look as if the vaccine effort is failing.
“To my mind, it was overpromising what there would be based on our historic experience with flu vaccines,’’ said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.
Does vitamin D prevent the swine (H1N1) and seasonal flu, or the common cold?
By Judy Foreman
October 26, 2009
A. It’s not clear whether vitamin D specifically protects against H1N1, a novel virus, but there’s growing evidence that it does protect against a number of respiratory infections - and that many Americans do not get enough of the vitamin.
One study showed that people taking supplements containing 2,000 international units of vitamin D a day suffered fewer respiratory infections than those not taking supplements. Another study showed the obverse - that people with low blood levels of vitamin D were somewhat more likely to have had a recent upper respiratory tract infection than people with higher levels (24 percent vs. 17 percent). Vitamin D boosts the activity of a gene that makes cathelicidin, a natural antimicrobial compound that is part of the body’s defenses against infections, says Dr. Carlos A. Camargo, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School.
When there’s lots of sunshine, people make vitamin D naturally. But in New England, most people have low levels of vitamin D, especially in winter. The problem is a national one as well: A study being published today in Pediatrics shows that about 20 percent of children ages 1 to 11 have suboptimal levels of vitamin D.
You can get a blood test to determine your vitamin D level. People with darker skin are at extra risk because highly pigmented skin requires more sun exposure to obtain a healthy level.
The vitamin has so many benefits - including lowering the risk of osteoporosis, heart attacks, and colon cancer - that “I am encouraging everyone to increase their vitamin D intake, especially children,’’ says Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University. He suggests that children take a minimum of 400 IUs a day and preferably 1,000. “Adults should take at least 1,000 IUs and preferably 2,000 IUs a day,’’ he says.
Daniel Perlman, a senior scientist at Brandeis University, says 2,000 IUs a day is safe: “In the summer sun, the body itself is known to produce far higher levels.’’
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