IDSA President Martin J. Blaser said in the news release, “It’s important to keep in mind that there is no pandemic right now. Even the H5N1 virus that is currently circulating in Asia and Europe primarily causes a disease affecting birds. There have been very few cases of bird-to-human transmission. Most of those who became sick were in very close contact with poultry.” “The threat of a pandemic to the American people is so low right now that it simply doesn’t justify personal stockpiles of antivirals,” said Leonard Mermel, DO, SCM, president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). “We need this drug to treat sick people who will suffer from human strains of flu this winter.” He made the statement in a joint news release from SHEA and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). The statement follows recent reports of people trying to stockpile the antiviral drug for protection in case a flu pandemic erupts. Scores of governments are stockpiling oseltamivir, but supplies are limited and production is slow. Last week the manufacturer, Roche, suspended shipments of the drug to US pharmacies in an effort to prevent hoarding and save supplies for those who will need it for seasonal flu this winter. Oseltamivir and zanamivir (Relenza), called neuraminidase inhibitors, are the only antiviral drugs considered likely to be of some help if the H5N1 avian flu virus leads to a human flu pandemic. Oct 31, 2005 (CIDRAP News) Two major organizations of infectious disease experts today warned the public against hoarding oseltamivir (Tamiflu), saying the threat of an influenza pandemic is not high enough to warrant it. IDSA-SHEA position statement US officials say they currently have a stockpile of about 2.3 million treatment courses of oseltamivir and expect to have about 2 million more by the end of this year. The government’s current goal is to have enough to treat 20 million people, which is less than 10% of the population. The IDSA advocates storing up enough to treat 25% to 40% of the population. “Given the current shortage of antiviral drugs, institutions should not stockpile drug for prophylaxis of health care workers, as this strategy requires much greater drug supplies than early treatment, and could deplete the reserve necessary for treatment on a national level,” the statement adds. In related news, Canadian pharmacies today stopped cross-border sales of oseltamivir to the United States to allay public concern about the potential for shortages, according to a Bloomberg News report. In announcing the move, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association said there is no evidence of a shortage now, the story said. According to the story, Roche Chairman and Chief Executive Franze Humer said he had discussed the idea with Chinese officials. But reports in Chinese newspapers said Roche had not received any formal proposals from Chinese drug companies to produce the drug, the AP reported. See also: In a position statement also issued today, IDSA and SHEA said, “Personal stockpiling would likely lead to inappropriate use and wastage, as well as foster antiviral drug resistance emergence under some circumstances.” The groups suggested that healthcare facilities consider building a rotating stockpile containing about five times as much oseltamivir and zanamivir as they need in an average flu season, since the shelf life of the two drugs is about 5 years. Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong said Roche has been talking with the Chinese government about the possibility of jointly producing oseltamivir, according to an Associated Press (AP) report today.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he believes it is more important to help out Canadians at home than to seek a seat on the United Nations Security Council.Canada is campaigning for one of two seats for a two-year term that would begin in 2021, but it faces a tough fight from Norway and Ireland.The Conservatives are pledging to decrease foreign-aid spending by 25 per cent. The plan includes cutting out funding for countries they consider to be hostile regimes, or as having too much money to need the help.Asked whether that would hurt Canada’s bid for the UN seat it is seeking, Scheer said he was confident allies would recognize the country’s contributions, including through its military efforts, around the world.At the same time, he suggested securing the spot at the UN table would not be a priority for a Conservative government.“It’s more important to me that I help Canadians get ahead than curry favour at the United Nations,” Scheer said Tuesday in Toronto.The UN vote is next June.Scheer noted his foreign policy announcement came the day when the party leaders would have been participating in an event the Munk Debates organized around the topic. The organizers said they cancelled the event because Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau decided not to take part.Trudeau, who was meeting with mayors from the Greater Toronto Area about his gun-control policy on Tuesday, linked the proposed Conservative cuts to foreign assistance to their climate-change policy.“Andrew Scheer’s climate plan relies almost entirely on action overseas and now he’s proposing to stop supporting countries who are taking action overseas on fighting emissions,” Trudeau said in Richmond Hill, Ont.Trudeau also defended Liberal investments in foreign aid, although would not commit to increasing spending to reach 0.7 per cent of GDP, which is a target the United Nations set in 1970.“We are continuing to invest in foreign aid, because we know that helping people around the world, particularly vulnerable women and girls, is a meaningful way of promoting prosperity and indeed security and stability that impacts Canadians as well,” Trudeau said.Trudeau also confirmed U.S. President Donald Trump has never asked Canada to do him a favour involving his political interests.“No. Never,” Trudeau said. “We have not and I would not.”Trump faces an impeachment probe in Congress related to his efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden, now a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries.New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, said his party would commit to increasing foreign aid spending to reach the UN target.Singh also said that if Scheer is trying to find ways to pay for his promises, then cutting foreign aid is going about it the wrong way.“It is shameful that he is talking about cutting foreign aid when there are massive inequalities in our country,” Singh said Tuesday in Vancouver.“The fact that he is talking about cutting foreign aid is a distraction,” he said. “He is missing the point. He is missing the whole plot here. We’ve got massive inequality in our country and we have to ask those at the very top, the ultra rich, to pay their fair share.”Green Leader Elizabeth May is in Toronto to talk about her party’s policy on post-secondary education at Ryerson University before heading to Montreal for an evening rally. People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier is planning several small-scale appearances with candidates in southwestern Ontario.