english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2009 > Dealing with the H1N1 flu virus: step by step

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Dealing with the H1N1 flu virus: step by step

As of October 2009, the H1N1v flu virus has barely spread in France, but things are still feverish as regards vaccines. Many of the questions still have no clear answers. Contradictory information is swirling around every which way. And probably disinformation as well.

A bit of method can be useful in sorting through it all, and not getting lost in the general commotion. As of today, we are able to identify the groups at high risk for serious complications from the H1N1v flu virus. We can distinguish between the various H1N1v vaccines, according to what separates each from the others and from traditional seasonal flu vaccines. Etcetera.

Step by step, we arrive therefore at certain conclusions: all H1N1v vaccines are not created equal; their interest is different according to the persons under consideration; there is no cause to jump on the first vaccine that comes along and vaccinate willy-nilly; etc.

The same approach holds for antivirals, which can not be counted upon too much; for hand-washing, which still relies more upon soap and water than upon alcohol-based hand sanitisers, etc.

It remains to put these conclusions into practice. Preparing all the while the next step: to review these conclusions, methodically, in the light of new data....

©Prescrire November 2009

Source: "Étapes" Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (313):805.

> Click here for more information on the H1N1 flu virus from prescrire.org (in French).