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Last year’s flu vaccine wasn’t very effective. This year’s looks more promising

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If you had the flu vaccine last season and still got the flu, you might be wondering, why bother this year? Last year, the vaccine was indeed a bit of a disappointment.  

The Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network researches the annual efficacy of the vaccine. It found last year’s shot was only 17 per cent effective in preventing respiratory illness from H3N2 overall, the dominant A strain of influenza, and only 10 per cent effective for adults aged 20 to 64.

It was better at warding off respiratory illness caused by the dominant B strain of influenza; about 55 per cent effective.

Still, not great. 

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch, there were 64,403 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Canada last season, mostly Influenza A/H3N2. There were 302 deaths directly attributed to influenza, including nine children.

Officials say getting vaccinated helps healthy individuals protect more vulnerable people around them. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

So who decides what the vaccine will be? It’s based on reams of data.

Experts in influenza from around the world conduct virus surveillance year-round. That data goes to the World Health Organization.

Twice a year, the WHO organizes consultations to review the data and predict what strains of the flu will be most prevalent in the coming season. It makes recommendations about what strains of the virus the flu vaccine should contain, and then individual countries decide which viruses the vaccine in their country will contain.

In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) uses the WHO information to help inform its  recommendations on the vaccine to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

As Canada’s 2018-19 flu season begins, this year’s vaccine looks more promising. Here’s why:

Updated vaccine formulation

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the 2018-19 season vaccine has been revised to better match circulating viruses: the B/Victoria component was changed and the influenza A (H3N2) component was updated. 

This year’s vaccine contains two A strains of the H1N1 and H3N2 viruses, and two strains of the B/Victoria and B/Yamagata. Health officials think that will be a good match. 

Mild season in Australia

The best — though not fool-proof  — way to get an idea of what kind of flu season we’re going to have in Canada is to look to Australia, according to health experts. And right now, the view is good. Flu season there, which is coming to an end, has been relatively mild.

According to Australia’s Department of Health, flu activity — measured by the proportion of patients admitted directly to hospital intensive care units and deaths attributed to influenza — has been low to moderate. Severity — measured by the proportion of people with flu-like illness taking time off work and the burden on hospitals — has been low.

So if the season is expected to be mild, why get the shot?

Even in a normal season, Health Canada says influenza-related complications can land about 12,000 Canadians in hospital and kill 3,500. Even if you don’t care whether you get sick, health officials urge vaccination to protect more vulnerable people around you. PHAC considers the following people at high-risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalization:

Pregnant women; 

Adults and children with chronic health conditions;

Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities;

People 65 years of age and older;

Children younger than 60 months of age;

Indigenous peoples.

Health Canada has approved the use of the flu vaccine nasal spray for children or adults who can’t, or don’t want to, receive the shot. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

And speaking of kids…

Health Canada has approved either the shot or the nasal spray for kids aged two and up. So protecting them doesn’t need to come with a painful jab.

Children between six months and nine years old who have never had a flu shot need two doses, with a minimum of four weeks in between.

Kids who’ve received a flu vaccine in the past only need one dose going forward.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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