In a study designed to identify host and immunologic factors that might affect flu vaccine effectiveness, a research team based in Canada found that genetic changes in circulating viruses, birth year, repeat vaccinations, and waning protection may all play a role. They reported their findings this week in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.They based their findings on an analysis of data from a Canadian surveillance network during the 2015-16 flu season, which was dominated mainly by 2009 H1N1, didn’t peak until March, and had a lot of influenza B activity from the Victoria lineage that wasn’t a component of that season’s trivalent vaccines. Though the circulating H1N1 strain antigenically matched the vaccine, the season saw the emergence of subclade 6B.1. The team compared 596 2009 H1N1 and influenza B Victoria cases with 926 test-negative controls.Overall, vaccine effectiveness (VE) against 2009 H1N1 was 43%, lower than the 71% VE against the strain seen during the 2013-2014 season. Similar declines were seen in the United States and Europe, but they weren’t as steep as Canada’s. VE was also lower in adults born between 1957 and 1976, those vaccinated in both the previous and current seasons, and with a pattern of waning VE later in the season.For influenza B, VE against the Victoria lineage viruses was 54%, adding more evidence of possible cross-protection. And for flu B, researchers didn’t see the variations they saw for 2009 H1N1.They concluded that other factors than just antigenic match may affect vaccine performance, such as shifts in viral genomes, effects of childhood priming and cross-reactive boosting exposure, effects of repeat vaccination, and waning immunity. “Such influences on VE estimates may be daunting to untangle but warrant further in-depth investigation to identify improved vaccine and program options,” they wrote.’Part of a complex web’In a related commentary, Edward Belongia, MD, director of the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, noted several limitations of the study but lauded the comprehensive approach.”The authors clearly acknowledge the limitations of these exploratory analyses,” he wrote. “This was an observational study and power to detect age-stratified effects was low.”Interpretation of birth cohort effects is particularly difficult because year of birth is an imprecise surrogate for imprinting subtype and epitope specificity. An additional limitation of the repeated vaccination analysis is the reliance on self-report and sentinel physician documentation to classify vaccination status in prior seasons.”Belongia, who was not involved in the study, also notes the possibility of poor recall among the patients.He concludes, “Antigenic match remains an important determinant of vaccine effectiveness, but antigenic match alone does not explain why influenza vaccines are predictably less effective than vaccines against other viral infections. It is only one part of a complex web of interactions that include genetic evolution of circulating viruses, gain or loss of glycosylation at key antigenic sites, early childhood imprinting, epitope specificity, egg-induced mutations in high growth vaccine viruses, and the individual immune ‘landscape’ generated by a lifetime of repeated vaccination or infection.”Despite decades of influenza vaccine research, we still do not have a comprehensive understanding of these interactions and how they influence vaccine protection.”See also:Oct 4 J Infect Dis abstractOct 4 J Infect Dis commentary
NORWALK, Conn. | Jim Fowler, a naturalist who rose to fame on the long-running television program “Wild Kingdom” and who famously bantered with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” has died. He was 89.Fowler died peacefully Wednesday at his home in Norwalk, surrounded by family, said Jennifer Whitney, a spokeswoman for Mutual of Omaha, which sponsored the show.“Jim was one in a million, and with his passing we’ve lost a true wildlife icon,” she said in an email. “His memory will remain through the work he did on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, as well as through the many parks, wildlife centers and nature preserves to which he lent his expertise. But perhaps his most important legacy will be the role he played in inspiring the next generation of naturalists and wildlife experts.”FILE – In this July 27, 1998, file photo, television personality Jim Fowler ducks to avoid being battered by a peregrine falcon on a tether at the National Bison Range near Missoula, Mont. Fowler, a naturalist who rose to fame on the long-running television show “Wild Kingdom,” died peacefully surrounded by family on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at his home in Norwalk, Conn. He was 89. (Michael Gallacher/The Missoulian via AP)“Wild Kingdom” debuted in 1963. Fowler began as an assistant and later became a co-host with Marlin Perkins before taking over as host.Fowler had his arm swallowed by an anaconda and was charged by a gorilla and other creatures.He was an athlete in college and turned down offers from the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees to pursue his career in wildlife, according to a biography on the “Wild Kingdom” website.He had a special interest in training eagles and became an internationally recognized authority on predatory birds.He also made appearances with exotic animals on talk shows, including “The Tonight Show,” were his educational talks often also served as a foil for the humor of Johnny Carson.He shook his head when asked by The Associated Press in 1993 about his reputation for wrangling some of the world’s most fearsome beasts while Perkins watched and narrated. Perkins died in 1986 at age 81.“Johnny Carson started that and I can’t seem to shake the image,’ Fowler said. “It isn’t true, you know. Marlin was right there with me on almost all of the stuff.”He met Perkins on the “Today” show in 1961 and became his sidekick when the fledgling “Designs for Survival” aired a few months later.Fowler also was there as host when the last episode of the original “Wild Kingdom” — “Tigers of Ranthambhorn” — was filmed in 1991. The show was revived on “Animal Planet” in 2002.Fowler’s survivors include his wife, the wildlife artist Betsey Fowler; two children; and two grandchildren.
Several Olympic events were postponed or rescheduled as strong winds swept through the Pyeongchang region on Wednesday, damaging temporary structures set up for the Games.Nordic combined, biathlon and Alpine skiing events were postponed or delayed due to weather conditions, Olympic organisers said as they rejigged the competition schedule and worked to limit damage sustained around venues.At the Gangneung Ice Arena, the venue for figure skating and short track speed skating, a tent set up for security screenings lay flat on the pavement.Olympic volunteers and reporters trudged with their backs to the wind, shielding their faces from the dust.The Korea Meteorological Administration said on its website that winds in the region were blowing at 7 m/s as of 17:30 (0830 GMT).In text messages sent to mobile phones in the coastal area, Gangneung City Hall called for people to be wary of flying objects and falling debris.The streets of the Gangneung Media Village, where the majority of international journalists covering the Games are staying, were deserted except for a few security officials trying to fix damage to temporary structures. Several tents used as work areas for the press were closed.Athletes have also felt the effects of the treacherous winds.Canadian pairs figure skater Meagan Duhamel wrote on Twitter that the hanger she used for her competition dress “broke from the wind” ahead of the short programme on Wednesday in which she and partner Eric Radford finished third.