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CDC Maryland Death Cluster H3N2 Variant Denial Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 02:15
March 28, 2012

A/Brisbane/299/2011 X-215


Genetic sequencing has confirmed that this is a typical human seasonal H3N2 virus that is more than 99% similar to other H3N2 influenza viruses submitted by the state of Maryland this season. While full antigenic testing is pending, based on genetic sequencing of some of the samples, these viruses are close to the H3N2 component of the 2011-2012 seasonal vaccine such that vaccination should offer protection against these viruses.

The above constructs (in red) were created for the CDC from an August 13, 2011 Brisbane isolate for testing as an H3N2 vaccine target because the CDC was well aware of low reactors with S199A, which caused concerns in 2010.  The recently released sequences from the Maryland death cluster also contained S199A and were drift variants and Brisbane/299-like.

However, prior to the release of the sequence data, the CDC claimed (see above quote in blue) that the vaccine targeting A/Perth/16/2009, would react with the Maryland sequences, even though the CDC had released Brisbane/299-like 2012 sequences, A/Colorado/05/2012 and A/California/07/2012, which had been designated as low reactors by the CDC.

In addition to the official CDC claim, an internet rumor was published citing anonymous sources at the CDC who claimed that the Maryland death cluster was not due to an H3N2 drift variant.

This misleading information increases concerns that the internally inconsistent antigen characterization data generated by the CDC  is used for propaganda purposes, such as use of the data to claim vaccine matches for mismatches, and claim that the mismatched vaccine is efficacious for drift variants, like the sequences linked to the Maryland death cluster.

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