Tamiflu shortage resolves as flu infections slow

sick woman blowing nose

Flu numbers are finally on a downward trend amidst worst flu season on record – with nearly 200,000 confirmed cases

As of 2 October, there have been 192,542 influenza cases, according to the Immunisation Coalition.

The previous highest number on record had been 100,590 in 2015.

And 2016 saw 90,837, leaving us with more than 100,000 more cases than last year.

This year’s number is nearly seven times more than in 2013, which saw 28,314 confirmed influenza cases.

Thankfully since mid-August this year when flu numbers peaked, they’re finally now on a downward trend, however numbers are still very high.

2017 influenza data graph. Source: Immunisation Coalition.
2017 influenza data. Source: Immunisation Coalition.
Flu-related calls to helpline are also on the downward trend (graph). Source: healthdirect.gov.au
Flu-related calls to helpline are also on the downward trend. Source: healthdirect.gov.au

Professor Paul VanBuynder, of the Gold Coast Health Service and the Immunisation Coalition, told media that the uptick in flu cases this year cannot be attributed to increased reporting, nor to GPs’ takeup of desktop testing methods, as the latter are not included in the official data.

The Sydney Morning Herald last week reported that the flu vaccine’s effectiveness may have dropped below 40% this year, according to experts, due to flaws in its manufacturing and design.

The current vaccine is grown in eggs – but scientists are now concerned that may cause it to mutate, rendering it less effective.

“Even when the virus-vaccine match is perfect, the vaccine typically only yields about a 70% effectiveness. That really is a reflection the vaccine is not perfect,” Associate Professor Aeron Hurt from the World Health Organisation told SMH.

Meanwhile, Tamiflu shortages seem to have finally resolved.

Both the 30mg and 45mg capsule blister packs are now available following a nationwide shortage last month, which forced the government to release supplies from the National Medical Stockpile.

However the Tamiflu suspension is still undergoing a shortage, and is expected to come back into supply by 12 October.

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