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Knowledge gaps about Tamiflu and Relenza for pandemic flu are blamed on research failure

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h5390 (Published 08 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5390
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

A failure to carry out research during the 2009 flu pandemic has left the world unprepared for another one, with huge gaps in the knowledge base that should by now have been filled, says a report from the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Wellcome Trust.1

Research into infectious diseases is “woeful,” said Jeremy Farrar, director of the trust, at a briefing to introduce the report at the Science Media Centre in London. No vaccines were available to prevent severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), he said, and it had taken six to nine months to set up trials for an Ebola vaccine. Furthermore, the numbers involved in trials during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic had been “close to zero.”

As a result, it is not known how well antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) …

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