Virus responsible for swine flu pandemic becoming increasingly resistant to Tamiflu

2009 outbreak may have caused the deaths of up to 579,000 people

The virus responsible for the “swine flu” pandemic of 2009 is becoming increasingly resistant to the main drug used to treat it, new research has shown.

An increasing number of cases of the virus, H1NI, are being found with developing resistance to oseltamivir – trade name Tamiflu – which was stockpiled in large amounts by Governments, including the British Government, when it was feared the new swine flu mutation would irresistibly sweep the world.

First detected in Mexico, the 2009 virus was a new strain of H1N1 – itself responsible for the disastrous flu pandemic of 1918 – which combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus to become newly potent.

The resultant pandemic struck over 74 countries, and although deaths were initially assessed by the World Health Organisation at 18,500, the WHO later admitted this was probably a gross underestimate.

A 2012 medical study by the journal ITALS Lancet Infectious Diseases OFFITALS suggested that in fact it may have caused the deaths of up to 579,000 people. 

Tamiflu, made by the giant Swiss pharmaceutical company, Hoffman-La Roche, was the main drug against the outbreak – but now Australian scientists are finding that it is encountering increased resistance.

Dr Aeron Hurt, of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, analysed with colleagues circulating H1N1 strains, and found that although the overall frequency of Tamiflu resistance was relatively low (approximately two per cent of strains tested) an increasing proportion of these viruses were being detected from patients not being treated with Tamiflu.

This suggests a resistant strain could be emerging since it must be being transmitted to these patients never treated with that drug. 

A widespread cluster of cases of Tamiflu-resistant influenza in Newcastle, New South Wales, in 2011 detected by surveillance conducted by Dr Hurt and colleagues, represents the most widespread outbreak of Tamiflu-resistant H1N, and generated significant concern that these strains may spread outside of Australia.

Similar resistant strains have since been detected in Europe, but at this stage only on an ad hoc basis. “However, the trend observed in Australia of a greater proportion of resistant cases being detected in untreated community patients is also being observed both in the USA and Europe,” says Dr Hurt.

Dr Hurt’s research was presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) in Canberra.

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence