People receiving this year's seasonal influenza vaccine are 23% less
likely to seek medical treatment for flu-type symptoms relative to
unvaccinated individuals, according to an interim CDC estimate based on
reports submitted so far for the current season.
That's less than half the "vaccine effectiveness" calculated for the vaccines deployed in recent seasons:
The CDC had previously acknowledged that the current flu vaccine cocktail appeared less effective than usual,
because the most common influenza A strain being detected in
circulation, dubbed A/Switzerland/9715293/2013, was not among those
selected for the 2014-2015 Northern Hemisphere vaccine. The
A/Switzerland strain is included in the vaccines to be used in the
upcoming Southern Hemisphere season, which begins in a few months. But
those stocks are neither ready yet nor would they be large enough to
cover the much more heavily populated Northern Hemisphere.
But the new estimate, published online in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is the first time the agency has put a number to the reduced effectiveness.
Authors of the report noted that their interim estimate came earlier
than in previous years, because of the early onset of significant flu
cases last fall.
"These early vaccine effectiveness estimates underscore the need for
additional influenza prevention and treatment measures, especially among
persons aged ≥65 years, young children, and other persons at higher
risk for serious influenza associated complications," they wrote.
Last week, the CDC called for immediate treatment with influenza antiviral drugs in all high-risk patients presenting with possible flu, without waiting for confirmatory testing.
A single dose of an investigational influenza drug was able to reduce
the duration of fever and viral shedding, researchers said. In a combined analysis of two randomized placebo-controlled trials, the
neuraminidase inhibitor peramivir (Rapivab), given by injection within
48 hours of symptom onset, also lowered the amount of virus in the
blood, according to Rich Whitley, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But while the drug reduced the time to resolution of symptoms - the
primary endpoint of the trials - the difference from placebo was not
Is oral zinc associated with a shorter duration, decreased
severity, and reduced incidence of the common cold compared with placebo?
When initiated within 24 hours of symptom onset, oral zinc is
associated with a shorter duration of the common cold in healthy people.
However, there is no association between oral zinc and symptom
severity, and the prevalence of adverse effects with zinc lozenges is
high. Given the high heterogeneity of data, these results should be
interpreted with caution. Used prophylactically, oral zinc is associated
with a reduced cold incidence in children. Prophylactic use has not
been studied in adults.
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