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Swinefeld: Does Canada's Medical Officer of Health Agree?

Stop the presses! According to an article in the October 8, 2009 Globe and Mail:

"The pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in Canada is not as severe as expected nor is it spreading quickly, the country's top public health official has determined as he put the brakes on an early rollout of the vaccine."

The article goes on to say that unlike Canada, the United States, China and Australia have begun vaccinating its citizens against swine flu. Indeed, many flu watchers have wondered why the US is already vaccinating its' citizens at a time when Canada hasn't even started testing its vaccine. According to David Butler Jones, Canada's chief public health officer, that's no cause for worry.

“Right now in Canada, unlike in the United States, we are not seeing widespread influenza activity,” Dr. Butler-Jones said in a conference call. “We're many weeks behind the Americans in terms of rates of disease.”

If I understand Butler Jones' reasoning, Canada can afford to wait until its vaccine is properly tested (which means mid-November if not later) because Canada, unlike the US, is not seeing high volumes of people with H1N1.

Sorry, Dr. Butler Jones, but your reasoning is faulty. If Canada is weeks behind the US in the development of a high volume outbreak of swine flu, then NOW is PRECISELY the time to get the vaccine out on the double, BEFORE we see a spike in cases.

That Butler Jones thinks we can wait can mean only one thing: that the direst predictions for swine flu that public health officials have been so fond of making to Canadians are nothing more than hogwash.

Sounds like 'Swinefeld' to me.

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Previous Comments (1)

Agree that the Butler-Jones assessment of H1N109 is simply not backed by available current evidence.

Failure to initiate mass vaccinination of vulnerable populations patients in a timely manner will likely result in a needless increase in both preventable deaths/morbidity and preventable burden on and already over-stretched health system.

It it is a pity the Canadian public health leadership seems so willing to ignore the lessons of Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the US.

Recommend reading recently published New England Journal of Medicine article detailing the impact H1N109 had on Australian/New Zealand critical care services and conclusions reached by the authors:

www.nejm.org

Critical Care Services and 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Australia and New Zealand. The ANZIC Influenza Investigators

CB, October 8, 2009 8:32 PM
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