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Fatal H1N1 In Previously Healthy Young Adults In UK
Recombinomics Commentary 01:10
December 25, 2010

The figures have risen by 10 in a week. Of those who died, 24 had swine flu and three were suffering from another strain, flu type B, the Health Protection Agency said.

Nine of the victims were children. The HPA would not say if any of the deaths were among pregnant women because of worries over identification.

Almost half the fatalities were in the “at risk” group, meaning they were eligible for vaccination.

One victim had been vaccinated. But the HPA said this was not unusual as the vaccine is only 70 to 80 per cent effective.

The above comment on fatal H1N1 cases notes that most were not in the “at risk” group, i.e. were previously healthy young adults.  This characterization is in marked contrast to comments from last season where more fatal cases were in a broadly defined “at risk” group.  Last year one study of 34 fatal H1N1 cases in New York found that 91% were in the at risk group, largely because of obesity.

The high number of previously healthy young adults who are fatally infected with H1N1, as well as the dramatic spike in severe cases who occupy the vast majority of the 460 intensive care beds with patients with flu-like conditions in the UK, indicate the virus has changed, which is supported by sequence analysis and recombination in recently released data by the Health Protection Agency.

The high frequency of deaths in healthy adults is being largely ignored by the media, and agencies are discussing increasing the vaccination rate in the at risk population (currently at 43%), and not stating the abysmal rate in the healthy population, who are clearly at risk for fatal H1N1 infections this season in the UK.

The spike in severe H1N1 is straining the health care delivery, including ECMO treatment of critical patients, which is not helped by the low vaccination uptake in the under 65 “at risk” group, and the lower uptake in healthy young adults in the UK.

Information on the low vaccination rate in healthy young adults and plans to correct this serious situation would be useful.

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