H1N1 Influenza Virus
(as we written in our September newsletter)
The Chief Medical Officer has responded to our request for advice for ME patients as to whether he considers people with ME to be more at risk from the H1N1 strain of the flu virus, and whether Tamiflu will be immediately available if requested.
His reply is available here.
The CMO states that the ME "is not known to increase the severity or duration of community acquired infections" and he is "not aware of evidence that ME leads to more severe and complicated influenza, and ME is not a condition which leads to the inclusion of sufferers in the population groups offered vaccination for seasonal influenza".
The CMO's web pages which describe the "population groups" offered vaccination as -
Following advice from independent expert committees including the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the following groups should be prioritised for vaccination in the following order, once the vaccine has been licensed:
i. individuals aged six months and up to 65 years in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups
ii. all pregnant women, subject to licensing conditions on trimesters
iii. household contacts of immunocompromised individuals
iv. people aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups
These groups were selected because they are at highest risk of severe illness.
We know that the Department of Health officially classes CFS/ME as "a chronic neurological condition”. The NHS website includes chronic neurological diseases among high risk groups needing preferential treatment - see the influenza immunisation programme 2009/10 in Annex 5 under Clinical Risk groups is included Chronic Neurological disease - [http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_097535.pdf]
That qualifies ME as one of the high risk groups.
The CMO states in his web page -
that any vaccine for H1N1 would be given to "household contacts of immunocompromised individuals"
yet he also states in his letter to Invest in ME -
that ME " is not a condition which leads to the inclusion of sufferers in the population groups offered vaccination for seasonal influenza".
There is an obvious and dangerous inconsistency here.
There is a great deal of research indicating that patients are "immunocompromised" and, if the CMO had come to any of our conferences, he could have been made aware of that from the leading experts on ME. The role of enteroviruses and herpes viruses in this illness has had much peer-reviewed research of which the CMO ought to be aware. These are known to persist in ME patients.
We have written back to the CMO [click here] to determine if he would like to revise his position and his statements on this subject.
The CMO's reply regarding H1N1 influenza virus and the development of a vaccine mixes ME and chronic fatigue. It didn't answer our questions on the differences between the information on the CMO and the DoH web pages.
The CMO has replied - see here.
See also Information Centre H1N1 - click here