What may be described as alarming news, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that scientists have come to know about new cases of swine flu viruses that are resistant to Tamiflu. In fact, scientists in China and Singapore have discovered Tamiflu-resistant endemic viruses. This startling news was disclosed by Charles Penn, a scientist with the Geneva-based WHO agency.
According to Charles Penn, the World Health Organization has been unofficially forewarned regarding the detection of some rare new Tamiflu-resistant viruses. The WHO scientist, however, did not disclose the exact number of the viruses or where they have been actually discovered. Penn only said that the number of the Tamiflu-viruses is small and, hence, in any way it did not alter the degree of what they are bearing in mind.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has acquired official warning regarding seven new cases where it has been ascertained that people enduring the epidemic flu were actually infected with Tamiflu-resistant viruses. It may be mentioned here that Tamiflu is one among the two medications that is able to combat these H1N1 viruses. In fact, it has been discovered that two other flu medications - amantadine and rimantadine have proved to be ineffective in working against the endemic viruses since they become known earlier this year.
While three cases of people being infected with Tamiflu-resistant swine flu viruses have been reported from Japan, one case each have come to light in Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark and Canada taking the total to seven.
According to Charles Penn, though the Chinese health authorities are yet to file an official report comprising information regarding the one such case in their country, the Global Influenza Surveillance Network has alerted the World Health Organization about its preliminary laboratory findings. It has been reported that the person suffering from Tamiflu-resistant pandemic virus is a resident of Hunan province in China.
It may be noted that a formal notification in this regard includes reporting the particulars of the case together with information regarding whether the patient has been taking Tamiflu for healing flu. In addition, the World Health Organization would further like to make out if the virus has been examined to ensure that all the genes of the virus are similar to those of the endemic virus or if the endemic virus may possibly have substituted genes with the recurring or seasonal H1N1 virus. If such a thing occurs, it would certainly be an undesirable turn of event - in effect it has been found that all human H1N1 viruses mingling during approximately the last one year have been Tamiflu-resistant. The public health authorities all over the world would definitely not like this endemic virus to acquire this characteristic.
Charles Penn has stated that so far there is no proof of any such gene exchange - known as reassortment. He added that neither is there any indication that the Tamiflu-resistant endemic H1 viruses are passing on from one person to another. According to Penn, all these cases of people suffering from the Tamiflu-resistant endemic viruses appear to be secluded cases.
It may be noted here that scientists have always expected that there would be some extent of resistance to the drug at some stage. Researches conducted in the past by drug manufacturer Roche had established that in exceptional instances people taking the medication either for the cure or prevention of the disease develop resistance. Charles Penn has said that it has always been there constantly as an event that could occur with a small rate of recurrence. He added that what they were witnessing at present is nothing less or more compared to what they have expected from the preliminary information collected from the research undertaken by Roche.
For a long time, scientists believed that the Tamiflu-resistant viruses would not transmit and hence they were not considered to give rise to any threat. However, the volatile expansion of resistance in the H1N1 viruses during the winter of 2008 demonstrated that typical knowledge was unsubstantiated. Presently, laboratories across the globe are watching out for any transformation in the endemic Tamiflu-resistant viruses that may possibly indicate the emergence of a comparable resistance problem in them. However, Charles Penn has stated that till date there is no evidence whatsoever in this regard.