Category Archives: Science

Science

Australia orders 10 million vaccines, H1N1 swine flu virus, Health Minister Nicola Roxon, pharmaceutical company CSL Ltd

From Medical News Today, May 28, 2009:

“10 Million H1N1 Vaccines Ordered By Australia”

“Reports are coming in that the government of Australia has placed an order for 10 million vaccines against the novel H1N1 swine flu virus, following a press briefing from Health Minister Nicola Roxon in Canberra earlier today, Thursday.

According to a report from Reuters, Roxon said the Australian government will also be ordering 1.6 million courses of the antiviral drug Relenza, bringing the national stockpile of antivirals to nearly 12 million courses.

The swine flu vaccine order has been placed with pharmaceutical company CSL Ltd who are planning to start clinical trials in a few months.”

“Earlier today, the Australian authorities reported they have officially confirmed 103 cases of H1N1 swine flu, up from 61 on Wednesday.

Australia is also gearing up for the regular flu season, which starts about now, as the winter months approach.

Most of the swine flu cases are believed to be in New South Wales and Victoria, the country’s two most populated states and which lie to the south east.

Three of the cases were passengers travelling on the cruise liner Pacific Dawn which is now not going to complete its journey north to Queensland.”

Read more:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151773.php

H1N1 swine flu, May 25, 2009, Bloomberg article, Swine Flu Is Spreading Wider Than Official Data Show, woman in her 50s died in New York over weekend

From Bloomberg, May 25, 2009:

“Swine Flu Is Spreading Wider Than Official Data Show”

“Swine flu is spreading more widely than official figures indicate, with outbreaks in Europe and Asia showing it’s gained a foothold in at least three regions.

One in 20 cases is being officially reported in the U.S., meaning more than 100,000 people have probably been infected nationwide with the new H1N1 flu strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the U.K., the virus may be 300 times more widespread than health authorities have said, the Independent on Sunday reported yesterday.

Japan, which has reported the most cases in Asia, began reopening schools at the weekend after health officials said serious medical complications had not emerged in those infected. The virus is now spreading in the community in Australia, Jim Bishop, the nation’s chief medical officer, said yesterday.

“I think we will see the number rise,” Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today after confirming the nation’s 17th case and saying test results are pending on 41 others. “This is going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.”

Forty-six countries have confirmed 12,515 cases, including 91 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s latest tally. Almost four of every five cases were in Mexico and the U.S., where the pig-derived strain was discovered last month. Most of those infected experience an illness similar to that of seasonal flu. The main difference is that the new H1N1 strain is persisting outside the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Summer Disease?

“While we are seeing activities decline in some areas, we should expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and perhaps more deaths over the weeks ahead and possibly into the summer,” Anne Schuchat, CDC’s interim deputy director for science and public health program, told reporters on a May 22 conference call.

The U.S. has officially reported 6,552 probable and confirmed cases, Schuchat said. “These are just the tip of the iceberg. We are estimating more than 100,000 people probably have this virus now in the U.S.”

There have been nine deaths and more than 300 known hospitalizations, she said. The fatalities exclude a woman in her 50s who died in New York over the weekend.

China reported cases today in Shanghai and the eastern province of Zhejiang, taking its tally of confirmed infections to 12. Taiwan confirmed the island’s first domestically transmitted case and reported two imported infections, giving it nine. South Korea confirmed 12 more cases, bringing its total to 22, while the Philippines confirmed a second infection today.”

“Community spread of the new virus in a second region means WHO’s criteria for a pandemic has been met, said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy of the University of Minneapolis.”

Read more:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=agHVPFaC5R.M&refer=worldwide

Obama, Baxter International, CDC, Dr. Robert Weinstein, corruption ties, Chicago, Weinstein, Levine, Rezko, Blagojevich, Obama

Are you sleeping well these days with the corrupt Obama in the White House and concerns about the H1N1 Swine Flu?

Flu epidemics or pandemics are scary enough under normal circumstances, but with the reputation of Obama and his long time ties to crime and corruption in Chicago, it is hard to trust anything coming out of his administration.

Remember Dr. Robert Weinstein? He pled guilty to corruption charges a few months ago, corruption charges that linked him to Stuart Levine, Tony Rezko, Rod Blagojevich and ultimately Barack Obama. Well, it turns out that there is a Dr. Weinstein that has ties to the CDC and possibly Baxter. Are these Dr. Weinstein’s related?

Now revisit the following article:

 Obama baxter ties in corrupt Chicago

To refresh your memory:

Dr. Robert Weinstein Indictment

Governor Rod Blagojevich Criminal Complaint

Citizen Wells request to Patrick Fitzgerald, Indict Obama

Dr. Robert Weinstein pleads guilty

Dr. Robert Weinstein and the CDC

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Past Issue

Vol. 7, No. 2
Mar–Apr 2001

“Controlling Antimicrobial Resistance in Hospitals: Infection Control and Use of Antibiotics

Robert A. Weinstein
Cook County Hospital and Rush Medical College, Chicago, Ilinois, USA”

“Dr. Weinstein is chair, Division of Infectious Diseases, Cook County Hospital; director of Infectious Disease Services for the Cook County Bureau of Health Services; and professor of medicine, Rush Medical College. He also oversees the CORE Center for the Prevention, Care and Research of Infectious Disease and directs the Cook County Hospital component of the Rush/Cook County Infectious Disease Fellowship Program. His areas of research include nosocomial infections (particularly the epidemiology and control of antimicrobial resistance and infections in intensive care units) and health-care outcomes for patients with HIV/AIDS.

Address for correspondence: Robert A. Weinstein, Division of Infectious Diseases – Suite 129 Durand, Cook County Hospital, 1835 W. Harrison St.,Chicago, IL 60612, USA; fax: 312-572-3523; e-mail: rweinste@rush.edu

Read more:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no2/weinstein.htm

October 24, 2006

“Yet the CDC refuses to endorse search and destroy. It is sticking to the mantra that hospital workers should wash their hands more carefully and frequently, and that in most cases patients should be isolated only after symptoms of infection with MRSA appear. Routine surveillance to find patients who may not be symptomatic, but are still contagious, is rarely practiced, and not recommended in the CDC’s new hospital infection-fighting guidelines, which were released last week after five years of deliberations. The guidelines do not include a routine recommendation for search and destroy.”

“This is a bitter pill for many infectious-disease experts, who have been joined by the relatives of dead patients, Consumers Union, and even a few Congress members in pressing the CDC. “Why are we spending millions if not billions on bird flu, a ghost that might not happen, when you have thousands being colonized by MRSA and dying of it?” asks Dr. William Jarvis, a top CDC hospital-infection expert until he resigned in 2003. At a March 29 hearing on hospital infections—which, all told, kill an estimated 90,000 patients each year—Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., charged that the CDC had stood by, despite a steady rise in infections since the early 1970s. “During that time, hospital stays have grown dramatically shorter yet infection rates continue to go up,” Stupak said. “What do we have to do to motivate CDC?””

“The counterargument is made by Dr. Robert Weinstein, a hospital-infection expert at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and a leader on the CDC advisory committee that issued last week’s guidelines.”

Read more:

http://www.slate.com/id/2152118/

Baxter International, H1N1 Swine flu vaccine, Obama, Chicago, May 18, 2009, British government orders 90 million dosages of swine flu vaccine from Baxter, Glaxo

From the Chicago Tribune, May 18, 2009:

“British government orders 90 million dosages of swine flu vaccine from Baxter, Glaxo

 

The British government this morning announced deals with vaccine manufacturers including Deerfield-based Baxter International Inc. to make up to 90 million dosages of a vaccine as a precaution against the swine flu.

The United Kingdom Department of Health today said this morning the deals with Baxter and GlaxoSmithKline Plc “will enable production of pre-pandemic vaccine to begin as soon as possible.” Financial terms of the deal were not available this morning

“The agreements could provide enough vaccine to protect the most vulnerable in our population before a pandemic is likely to arrive, without affecting our supply of seasonal flu vaccine,” the department said in a statement on its web site.

Baxter and other vaccine makers last week obtained strains of the A/H1NI virus from the World Health Organization, which is working with countries around the world. “The WHO has set up a pandemic vaccine supply group that meets weekly and Baxter is part of that group,” Baxter said this morning.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-biz-swine-flu-vaccine-britain-baxter-may15,0,5442108.story

Obama owned stock in a company owned by Baxter International several years ago and  company employees were sizeable contributors to Obama’s campaign. Obama also warned of a global pandemic in 2005.

New York Reports Its First Swine Flu Death, May 17, 2009, assistant principal, New York City public school, Mitchell Wiener, experimental drug, Ribavirin, overwhelmed by the illness

From the NY Times, May 17, 2009:

“New York Reports Its First Swine Flu Death”

“An assistant principal at a New York City public school died of complications from swine flu in an intensive care unit of a Queens hospital on Sunday night, the first death in New York State of the flu strain that has swept across much of the world since it was first identified in April.”

“On Friday, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, head of flu epidemiology for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there had been 173 hospitalizations and 5 deaths reported to the agency. But he emphasized that most cases in the United States — possibly “upwards of 100,000” — were mild.”

““We are now seeing a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City,” Dr. Frieden said. But he added: “Nothing we’ve seen so far suggests that it’s more dangerous to someone who gets it than the flu that comes every year. We should not forget that the flu that comes every year kills about 1,000 New Yorkers.”

Mr. Wiener, 55, had been “overwhelmed” by the illness, despite beginning a course of treatment with an experimental drug, Ribavirin, after he failed to respond to other antiviral drugs, according to Ole Pedersen, a spokesman for Flushing Hospital Medical Center, where Mr. Wiener had been a patient since Wednesday.”

“His wife, Bonnie, a reading teacher, blamed the city for failing to act sooner to close the school where she and her husband both worked. “I know we have a duty to educate the children of New York,” Ms. Wiener, who is not sick, said on Friday. But, she added, “something just doesn’t fit right.””

“A total of 105 students were documented with flulike illness at Middle School 158 in Bayside, Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village and a building in Flushing that houses three schools with a total of 1,320 students, including Intermediate School 25. All of the schools will be closed beginning Monday for at least five days, the department said.”

Read more:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/nyregion/18swine.html?ref=health

CDC swine flu update, May 17, 2009, WebMD, Over 100,000 in US Have Flu, Half Have Swine Flu, Daniel Jernigan, MD, PhD, deputy director of the CDC influenza division

Here is an update from the deputy director of the CDC influenza division, Daniel Jernigan, MD, PhD, reported on WebMD on May 15, 2009:

“By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health NewsReviewed by Louise Chang, MDMay 15, 2009 —

More than 100,000 Americans probably have the flu — and at least half of these cases are H1N1 swine flu, a CDC expert estimates.

The comment came from Daniel Jernigan, MD, PhD, deputy director of the CDC’s influenza division, during a news conference.
Jernigan noted that the 4,700 confirmed or probable cases of swine flu reported to CDC represent a gross underestimate. When asked how many actual cases there were, Jernigan noted that 7% to 10% of the U.S. population — up to 30 million people — get the seasonal flu each year.

“So with the amount of activity we are seeing now, it is a little hard to know what that means in terms of making an estimate now of the total number of people with flu out in the community,” Jernigan said. “But if I had to make an estimate, I would say … probably upwards of maybe 100,000.”

The CDC’s most recent data, for the week ending May 9, shows that about half of Americans with confirmed flu had the H1N1 swine flu. If Jernigan’s off-the-cuff estimate is correct, more than 50,000 people in the U.S. have the new flu.

At a time when flu season should be ending or over, the CDC’s flu season indicators are going up instead of down. As of May 9, 22 states had widespread or regional flu.”

Read more:

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20090515/cdc-100,000plus-in-us-have-swine-flu-half-swine-flu?src=RSS_PUBLIC

Thanks to commenter J.J. for the heads up.

Cap and trade, Global warming, Energy Myths and Realities, drive up the cost of fossil energy, Lies exposed, loss of jobs, CO2 emissions, UVU Symposium on Environmental Ethics, Utah Valley University, Keith O. Rattie, Questar Corporation

First of all, I would like to thank the Watts up with that blog for bringing this to my attention. Visit there regularly for the truth and facts regarding Global warming, climate change and other Earth science data.

http://wattsupwiththat.com

The following speech was given by Keith O. Rattie, Chairman, President and CEO of Questar Corporation, on April 2, 2009, at the 22nd Annual UVU Symposium on Environmental Ethics, held at Utah Valley University. The PDF text of the speech can be found here:

http://www.questar.com/news/2009_news/UVUSpeech.pdf

 

“Energy Myths and Realities
Keith O. Rattie
Chairman, President and CEO
Questar Corporation
Utah Valley University
April 2, 2009

Good morning, everyone. I‟m honored to join you today.

I see a lot of faculty in the audience, but I‟m going to address my remarks today primarily to you students of this fine school.

Thirty-three years ago I was where you are today, about to graduate (with a degree in electrical engineering), trying to decide what to do with my career. I chose to go to work for an energy company – Chevron – on what turned out to be a false premise: I believed that by the time I reached the age I am today that America and the world would no longer be running on fossil fuels. Chevron was pouring money into alternatives – and they had lots of money and the incentive to find alternatives – and I wanted to be part of the transition.

Fast forward 33 years. Today, you students are being told that before you reach my age America and the world must stop using fossil fuels.
I‟m going to try to do something that seems impossible these days – and that‟s have an honest conversation about energy policy, global warming and what proposed „cap and trade‟ regulation means for you, the generation that will have to live with the consequences of the policy choices we make. My goal is to inform you with easily verifiable facts – not hype and propaganda – and to appeal to your common sense. But first a few words about Questar.

Questar Corp. is the largest public company headquartered in Utah, one of only two Utah-based companies in the S&P 500. Most of you know Questar Corp. as the parent of Questar Gas, the utility that sends you your natural gas bill every month. But outside of Utah and to investors we‟re known as one of America‟s fastest-growing natural gas producers. We also own a natural gas pipeline company. We have terrific people running each of our five major business units, and I‟m proud of what they‟ve done to transform this 85-year old company. We‟re the only Utah-based company ever to make the Business Week magazine annual ranking of the 50 top-performing companies in the S&P 500 – we were #5 in both 2007 and 2008, and we‟re #18 in the top 50 in Business Week’s 2009 ranking, just out this week.

At Questar our mission is simple: we find, produce and deliver clean energy that makes modern life possible. We focus on natural gas, and that puts us in the “sweet spot” of America‟s energy future and the global-warming debate. Natural gas currently provides about one-fourth of America‟s energy needs. But when you do the math, the inescapable conclusion is that greater use of natural gas will be a consequence of any policy aimed at cutting human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). You cut CO2 emissions by up to 50% when you use natural gas instead of coal to generate electricity. You cut CO2 emissions by 30% and NOx emissions by 90% when you use natural gas instead of gasoline in a car or truck – and here in Utah you save a lot of money. You can run a car on compressed natural gas at a cost of about 80 cents per gallon equivalent. You also cut CO2 emissions by 30-50% when you use natural gas instead of fuel oil or electricity to heat your home.

But you didn‟t come here for a commercial about Questar and I didn‟t come here to give you one. Let‟s talk about energy.

There may be no greater challenge facing mankind today – and your generation in particular – than figuring out how we‟re going to meet the energy needs of a planet that may have 9 billion people living on it by the middle of this century. The magnitude of that challenge becomes even more daunting when you consider that of the 6.5 billion people on the planet today, nearly two billion people don‟t even have electricity – never flipped a light switch.

Now, the “consensus” back in the mid-1970s was that America and the world were running out of oil. Ironically, some in the media were also claiming a scientific consensus that the planet was cooling, fossil fuels could be to blame, and we were all going to freeze to death unless we kicked our fossil-fuel habit. We were told we needed to find alternatives to oil – fast. That task, we were told, was too important to leave to markets, so government needed to intervene with massive taxpayer subsidies for otherwise uneconomic forms of energy. That thinking led to the now infamous 1977 National Energy Plan, an experiment with central planning that failed miserably. Fast-forward to today, and: déjà vu. This time the fear is not so much that we‟re running out of oil, but that we‟re running out of time – the earth is getting hotter, humans are to blame, and we‟re all doomed if we don‟t stop using fossil fuels – fast. Once again we‟re being told that the job is too important to be left to markets.

Well, the doomsters of the 1970s turned out to be remarkably wrong. My bet is that today‟s doomsters will be proven wrong. Over the past 39 years mankind has consumed nearly twice the world‟s known oil reserves in 1970 – and today proven oil reserves are nearly double what they were before we started. The story with natural gas is even better – here and around the world enormous amounts of natural gas have been found. More will be found. And guess what? The 30-year cooling trend that led to the global cooling scare in the mid-70s abruptly ended in the late 70s, replaced by a 20-year warming trend that peaked in 1998.
The lesson that we should‟ve learned from the 1970s is that when it comes to deciding how much energy gets used, what types of energy get used, and where, how and by whom energy gets used –that job is too important not to be left to markets.

Now, I‟d love to stand here and debate the science of global warming. The media of course long ago declared that debate over – global warming is a planetary emergency, we‟ve got to change the way we live now. I‟ve followed this debate closely for over 15 years. I read everything I get my hands on. I‟m an engineer, so I tend to be skeptical when journalists hyperventilate about science – “World coming to an end – details at 11”. My research convinces me that claims of a scientific consensus about global warming mislead the public and policy makers – and may reflect another agenda.

Yes, planet earth does appear to be warming – but by a not so unusual and not so alarming one degree over the past 100 years. Indeed, global average temperatures have increased by about one degree per century since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age 250 years ago. And, yes CO2 levels in the upper atmosphere have increased over the past 250 years from about 280 parts per million to about 380 parts per million today – that‟s .00038. What that number tells you is that CO2 – the gas we all exhale, the gas in a Diet Coke, the gas that plants need to grow – is a trace gas, comprising just four out of every 10,000 molecules in the atmosphere. But it‟s an important trace gas – without CO2 in the atmosphere, there would be no life on earth. And yes, most scientists believe that humans have caused much of that increase.

But that‟s where the alleged consensus ends. Contrary to the righteous certitude we get from some, no one knows how much warming will occur in the future, nor how much of any warming that does occur will be due to man, and how much to nature. No one knows how warming will affect the planet, or how easily people, plants and animals will adapt to any warming that does occur. When someone tells you they do know, I suggest Mark Twain‟s advice: respect those who seek the truth, be wary of those who claim to have found it.

My perspective on global warming changed when I began to understand the limitations of the computer models that scientists have built to predict future warming. If the only variable driving the earth‟s climate were manmade CO2 then there‟d be no debate – global average temperatures would increase by a harmless one degree over the next 100 years. But the earth‟s climate is what engineers call a “non-linear, dynamic system”. The models have dozens of inputs. Many are little more than the opinion of the scientist – in some cases, just a guess. The sun, for example, is by far the biggest driver of the earth‟s climate. But the intensity of solar radiation from the sun varies over time in ways that can‟t be accurately modeled.

Another example, water vapor is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. [The media now calls CO2 a “pollutant”. If CO2 is a “pollutant” then water vapor is also a “pollutant” – that‟s absurd, but I digress]. Some scientists believe clouds amplify human CO2 forcing, others believe precipitation acts as the earth‟s thermostat. But scientists do not agree on how to model clouds, precipitation, and evaporation, thus there‟s no consensus on this fundamental issue.

But the reality for American consumers is that whether you buy that the science is settled or not, the political science is settled. With the media cheering them on, Congress has promised to “do something”. CO2 regulation is coming, whether it will do any good or not. Indeed, President Obama‟s hope of shrinking the now the massive federal budget deficit depends on vast new revenues from a tax on carbon energy – so called “cap and trade”. Harry Reid has promised cap and trade legislation by August.

Under cap-and-trade, the government would try to create a market for CO2 by selling credits to companies that emit CO2. They would set a cap for the maximum amount of CO2 emissions. Over time, the cap would ratchet down. In theory, this will force companies to invest in lower-carbon technologies, thus reducing emissions to avoid the cost of buying credits from other companies that have already met their emissions goals. The costs of the credits would be passed on to consumers. Because virtually everything we do and consume in modern life has a carbon footprint the cost of just about everything will go up. This in theory will cause each of us to choose products that have a lower carbon footprint. Any way you slice it, cap and trade is a tax on the way we live our lives – one designed to produce a windfall for government.

The long term goal with cap and trade is „80 by 50‟– an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Let‟s do the easy math on what „80 by 50‟ means to you, using Utah as an example. Utah‟s carbon footprint today is about 66 MM tons of CO2 per year. Utah‟s population today is 2.6 MM. You divide those two numbers, and the average Utahan today has a carbon footprint of about 25 tons of CO2 per year. An 80% reduction in Utah‟s carbon footprint by 2050 implies a reduction from 66 MM tons today to about 13 MM tons per year by 2050. But Utah‟s population is growing at over 2% per year, so by 2050 there will be about 6 MM people living in this state. 13 MM tons divided by 6 MM people = 2.2 tons per person per year. Under „80 by 50‟ by the time you folks reach my age you‟ll have to live your lives with an annual carbon allowance of no more than 2.2 tons of CO2 per year.

Question: when was the last time Utah‟s carbon footprint was as low as 2.2 tons per person per year? Answer: probably not since Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley (1847).

You reach a similar conclusion when you do the math on „80 by 50‟ for the entire U.S. „80 by 50‟ would require a reduction in America‟s CO2 emissions from about 20 tons per person per year today, to about 2 tons per person per year in 2050. When was the last time America‟s carbon footprint was as low as 2 tons per person per year? Probably not since the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

In short, ‘80 by 50’ means that by the time you folks reach my age, you won’t be allowed to use anything made with – or made possible by – fossil fuels.

So I want to focus you on this critical question: “How on God‟s green earth – pun intended – are you going to do what my generation said we‟d do but didn‟t – and that‟s wean yourselves from fossil fuels in just four decades?” That‟s a question that each of you, and indeed, all Americans need to ask now – because when it comes to “how” there clearly is no consensus. Simply put, with today‟s energy technologies, we can‟t get there from here.

The hallmark of this dilemma is our inability to reconcile our prosperity and our way of life with our environmental ideals. We like our cars. We like our freedom to “move about the country” – drive to work, fly to conferences, visit distant friends and family. We aspire to own the biggest house we can afford. We like to keep our homes and offices warm in the winter, cool in the summer. We like devices that use electricity – computers, flat screen TVs, cell phones, the Internet, and many other conveniences of modern life that come with a power cord. We like food that‟s low cost, high quality, and free of bugs – which means farmers must use fertilizers and pesticides made from fossil fuels. We like things made of plastic and clothes made with synthetic fibers – and all of these things depend on abundant, affordable, growing supplies of energy.

And guess what? We share this planet with 6.2 billion other people who all want the same things.

America‟s energy use has been growing at 1-2% per year, driven by population growth and prosperity. But while our way of life depends on ever-increasing amounts of energy, we‟re downright schizophrenic when it comes to the things that energy companies must do to deliver the energy that makes modern life possible.

We want energy security – we don‟t like being dependent on foreign oil. But we also don‟t like drilling in the U.S. Millions of acres of prospective onshore public lands here in the Rockies plus the entire east and west coast of the U.S. are off-limits to drilling for a variety of reasons. We hate paying $2 per gallon for gasoline – but not as much as we hate the refineries that turn unusable crude oil into gasoline. We haven‟t allowed anyone to build a new refinery in the U.S. in over 30 years. We expect the lights to come on when we flip the switch, but we don‟t like coal, the source of 40% of our electricity – it‟s dirty and mining scars the earth. We also don‟t like nuclear power, the source of nearly 20% of our electricity – it‟s clean, France likes it, but we‟re afraid of it. Hydropower is clean and renewable. But it too has been blacklisted – dams hurt fish.

We don‟t want pollution of any kind, in any amount, but we also don‟t want to be asked: “how much are we willing to pay for environmental perfection?” When it comes to global warming, Time magazine tells us to “be worried, be very worried” – and we say we are – but we don‟t act that way.

Let me suggest that our conversation about how to reduce CO2 emissions must begin with a few “inconvenient” realities.

Reality 1: Worldwide demand for energy will grow by 30-50% over the next two decades – and more than double by the time you‟re my age. Simply put, America and the rest of the world will need all the energy that markets can deliver.

Reality 2: There are no near-term alternatives to oil, natural gas, and coal. Like it or not, the world runs on fossil fuels, and it will for decades to come. The U.S. government‟s own forecast shows that fossil fuels will supply about 85% of world energy demand in 2030 – roughly the same as today. Yes, someday the world may run on alternatives. But that day is still a long way off. It‟s not about will. It‟s not about who‟s in the White House. It‟s about thermodynamics and economics.
Now, I was told back in the 1970s what you‟re being told today: that wind and solar power are „alternatives‟ to fossil fuels. A more honest description would be „supplements‟. Taken together, wind and solar power today account for just one-sixth of 1% of America‟s annual energy usage. Let me repeat that statistic – one-sixth of 1%.

Here‟s a pie chart showing total U.S. primary energy demand today. I “asked” PowerPoint to show a wedge for the portion of the U.S. energy pie that comes from wind and solar. But PowerPoint won‟t make a wedge for wind and solar – just a thin line.

Over the past 30 years our government has pumped roughly $20 billion in subsidies into wind and solar power, and all we‟ve got to show for it is this thin line!

Undaunted by this, President Obama proposes to double wind and solar power consumption in this country by the end of his first term. Great – that means the line on this pie chart would become a slightly thicker line in four years. I would point out that wind and solar power doubled in just the last three years of the Bush administration. Granted, W. started from a smaller baseline, so doubling again over the next four years will be a taller order. But if President Obama‟s goal is achieved, wind and solar together will grow from one-sixth of 1% to one-third of 1% of total primary energy use – and that assumes U.S. energy consumption remains flat, which of course it will not.

The problems with wind and solar power become apparent when you look at their footprint. To generate electricity comparable to a 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant you‟d have to build a wind farm with at least 500 very tall windmills occupying more than 30,000 acres of land. Then there‟s solar power. I‟m holding a Denver Post article that tells the story of an 8.2 MW solar-power plant built on 82 acres in Colorado. The Post proudly hails it “America‟s most productive utility-scale solar electricity plant”. But when you account for the fact that the sun doesn‟t always shine, you‟d need over 250 of these plants, on over 20,000 acres to replace just one 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant that can be built on less than 40 acres.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently celebrated the startup of a 14 MW geothermal plant near Beaver, Utah. That‟s wonderful! But the Tribune failed to put 14 MW into perspective. Utah has over 7,000 MW of installed generating capacity, primarily coal. America has about 1,000,000 MW of installed capacity. Because U.S. demand for electricity has been growing at 1-2 % per year, on average we‟ve been adding 10-20,000 MW of new capacity every year to keep pace with growth. Around the world coal demand is booming – 200,000 MW of new coal capacity is under construction, over 30,000 MW in China alone. In fact, there are 30 coal plants under construction in the U.S. today that when complete will burn about 70 million tons of coal per year.

Why has my generation failed to develop wind and solar? Because our energy choices are ruthlessly ruled, not by political judgments, but by the immutable laws of thermodynamics. In engineer-speak, turning diffused sources of energy such as photons in sunlight or the kinetic energy in wind requires massive investment to concentrate that energy into a form that‟s usable on any meaningful scale.
What‟s more, the wind doesn‟t always blow and the sun doesn‟t always shine. Unless or until there‟s a major breakthrough in high-density electricity storage – a problem that has confounded scientists for more than 100 years – wind and solar can never be relied upon to provide base load power.

But it‟s not just thermodynamics. It‟s economics. Over the past 150 years America has invested trillions of dollars in our existing energy systems – power plants, the grid, steam and gas turbines, railroads, pipelines, distribution, refineries, service stations, home heating, boilers, cars, trucks and planes, etc. Changing that infrastructure to a system based on renewable energy will take decades and massive new investment.

To be clear, we need all the wind and solar power the markets can deliver at prices we can afford. But please, let‟s get real – wind and solar are not “alternatives” to fossil fuels.


Reality 3:
You can argue about whether global warming is a serious problem or not, but there‟s no argument about the consequences of cap and trade regulation – it‟s going to drive the cost of energy painfully higher. That‟s the whole point of cap and trade – to drive up the cost of fossil energy so that otherwise uneconomic “alternatives” can compete. Some put the total cost of cap and trade to U.S. consumers at $2 trillion over the next decade and $6 trillion between now and 2050 – not to mention the net loss of jobs in energy-intensive industries that must compete in global markets.

Given this staggering cost, I hope you‟ll ask: will cap and trade work? If Europe‟s experience with cap and trade is an indication, the answer is “no”.
With much fanfare, the European Union (EU) adopted a cap and trade scheme in an effort to meet their Kyoto commitments to cut CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012. How are they doing? So far, all but one EU country is getting an “F”. Since 2000 Europe‟s CO2 emissions per unit of GDP have grown faster than the U.S.! The U.S. of course did not implement Kyoto – nor did over 150 other countries. There‟s a good reason why most of the world rejected Kyoto: with today‟s energy technologies there‟s no way to sever the link between CO2 emissions and modern life. Europe‟s cap and trade scheme was designed to fail – and it‟s working as designed.

Let‟s do the math to explain why Kyoto would have failed in the U.S. and why Obama‟s cap and trade scheme is also likely to fail. Americans were responsible for about 5 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in 1990. By 2005 that amount had risen to over 5.8 billion tons. If the U.S. Senate had ratified the Kyoto treaty back in the 1990s America would‟ve promised to cut manmade CO2 emissions in this country to 7% below that 1990 level – to about 4.6 billion tons, a 1.2 billion ton per year cut by 2012.

What would it take to cut U.S. CO2 emissions by 1.2 billion tons per year by 2012? A lot more sacrifice than riding a Schwinn to work or school, or changing light bulbs.

We could‟ve banned gasoline. In 2005 gasoline use in America caused about 1.1B tons of CO2. That would almost get us there. Or, we could shut down over half of the coal-fired power plants in this country. Coal plants generated about 2 B tons of CO2 in 2005. Of course, before we did that we‟d have to get over 60 million Americans and a bunch of American businesses to volunteer to go without electricity.

This simple math is not friendly to those who demand that government mandate sharp cuts in manmade CO2 emissions – now.

Reality 4: Even if America does cut CO2 emissions, those same computer models that predict man-made warming over the next century also predict that Kyoto-type CO2 cuts would have no discernible impact on global temperatures for decades, if ever. When was the last time you read that in the paper? We‟ve been told that Kyoto was “just a first step.” Your generation may want to ask: “what‟s the second step?”

That begs another question: “how much are Americans willing to pay for „a first step‟ that has no discernible effect on global climate?” The answer here in Utah is: not much, according to a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates published in the Deseret News. 63% of those surveyed said they worry about global warming. But when asked how much they‟d be willing to see their electricity bills go up to help cut CO2 emissions, only half were willing to pay more for electricity. Only 18% were willing to see their power bill go up by 10% or more. Only 3% were willing to see their power bill go up by 20%.

Here‟s the rub: many Europeans today pay up to 20% more for electricity as a result of their failed efforts to sever the link between modern life and CO2 emissions.

So, if Americans aren‟t willing to pay a lot more for their energy, how do we reduce CO2 emissions? Well, here are several things we should do.
First, we should improve energy efficiency. Second, we should stop wasting energy. Third, we should conserve energy. Fourth, we should rethink our overblown fear of nuclear power. Fifth, if we let markets work, markets on their own will continue to substitute low-carbon natural gas for coal and oil.
Indeed, 2008 will be remembered in the energy industry as the year U.S. natural gas producers changed the game for domestic energy policy. Smart people in my industry have „cracked the code‟ – they‟ve figured out how to produce stunning amounts of natural gas from shale formations right here in the U.S. As a result, we now know that America and the world are “swimming” in natural gas.

U.S. onshore natural gas production has grown rapidly over the past three years – a feat that most energy experts thought impossible a few years ago. America‟s known natural gas resource base now exceeds 100 years of supply at current U.S. consumption – and that number is growing. Abundant supply means that natural gas prices over the next decade and beyond will likely be much lower than over the past five years. While prices may spike from time to time in response to sudden, unexpected changes in supply or demand – for example, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico or extreme cold or hot weather – these spikes will be temporary.

Indeed, the price of natural gas today is less than $24 per barrel equivalent – a bargain, even without taking into account lower CO2 emissions.
Greater use of natural gas produced in America – by American companies who hire American workers and pay American taxes – will help reduce oil imports. Unlike oil, 98% of America‟s natural gas supply comes from North America.
And get this: we don‟t need massive investment in new power plants to use more natural gas for electric generation. I mentioned earlier that America has about one million MW of installed electric generation capacity. Forty percent of that capacity runs on natural gas – about 400,000 MW, compared to just 312,000 MW of coal capacity.

But unlike those coal plants, which run at an average load factor of about 75%, America‟s existing natural gas-fired power plants operate with an average load factor of less than 25%. Turns out that the market has found a way to cut CO2 emissions without driving the price of electricity through the roof – natural gas‟s share of the electricity market is growing, and it will continue to grow – with or without cap and trade.
Sixth, your generation needs to focus on new technology and not just assume it, as many in my generation did back in the 70s – and as many in Congress continue to do today. Just one example: there‟s no such thing as “clean” coal, though I should quickly add that given America and the world‟s dependence on coal for electric generation, we do need to fund R&D aimed at capturing and storing CO2 from coal plants.

To be sure, CO2 capture and sequestration (underground storage) will be hugely expensive and it‟ll take decades to implement on any meaningful scale. The high costs will be passed through in electricity rates to consumers. To transport massive amounts of CO2 captured at coal plants we‟ll have to build a massive pipeline grid that some estimate could be comparable to our existing natural gas pipeline grid. Then we‟ll have to drill thousands of wells to store CO2 in the ground. The facilities required to inject CO2 into the earth will use huge amounts of energy – which ironically will come from fossil fuels, negating some of the carbon-reduction benefits. And where are we going to put all this CO2? Questar owns and operates underground natural gas storage facilities. Gas storage is in high demand – we‟re always looking for suitable underground formations. But I can tell you that there aren‟t many.

Seventh (for anyone who‟s still counting!) it‟s time to have an honest conversation about alternative responses to global warming than what will likely be a futile attempt to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. What about adapting to warming? In truth, while many scientists believe man‟s use of fossil fuels is at least partly responsible for global warming, many also believe the amount of warming will be modest and the planet will easily adapt. Just about everyone agrees that a modest amount of warming won‟t harm the planet. In fact, highly respected scientists such as Harvard astrophysicist Willie Soon believe that added CO2 in the atmosphere may actually benefit mankind because more CO2 helps plants grow. When was the last time you read that in the paper?

You‟ve no doubt heard the argument that even if global warming turns out not to be as bad as some are saying, we should still cut CO2 emissions – as an insurance policy – the so-called precautionary principle. While appealing in its simplicity, there are three major problems with the precautionary principle.
First, none of us live our lives according to the precautionary principle. Let me give you an example. Around the world about 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents – about 3,200 deaths a day. At that pace, 120 million people will die this century in a car wreck somewhere in the world. We could save 120 million lives by imposing a 5 MPH speed limit worldwide. Show of hands: how many would be willing to live with a 5 MPH speed limit to save 120 million lives? Most of us won‟t – we accept trade-offs. We implicitly do a cost-benefit analysis and conclude that we‟re not going to do without our cars, even if doing so would save 120 million lives. So before we start down this expensive and likely futile cap and trade path, don‟t you think we should insist on an honest analysis of alternative responses to global warming?

Second, the media dwells on the potential harm from global warming, but ignores the fact that the costs borne to address it will also do harm. We have a finite amount of wealth in the world. We have a long list of problems – hunger, poverty, malaria, nuclear proliferation, HIV, just to name a few. Your generation should ask: how can we do the most good with our limited wealth? The opportunity cost of diverting a large part of current wealth to solve a potential problem 50-100 years from now means we do “less good” dealing with our current problems.
Third, economists will tell you that the consequence of a cap and trade tax on energy will be slower economic growth. Slower growth, compounded over decades, means that we leave future generations with less wealth to deal with the consequences of global warming, whatever they may be.

In truth, humans are remarkably adaptive. People live north of the Arctic Circle where temperatures are below zero most of the year. Roughly one-third of mankind today lives in tropical climates where temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees. In fact, you can take every one of the theoretical problems caused by global warming and identify lower-cost ways to deal with that problem than rationing energy use. For example, if arctic ice melts and causes the sea level to rise, a wealthier world will adapt over time by moving away from the beach or building retaining walls to protect beachfront property. Fine, you say. But how do we save the polar bear? I‟d first point out that polar bears have survived sometimes dramatic climate changes over thousands of years, most recently the so called “medieval warm period” (1000-1300 A.D.) in which large parts of the arctic glaciers disappeared and Greenland was truly “green”. Contrary to that heart-wrenching image on the cover of Time of an apparently doomed polar bear floating on a chunk of ice, polar bears can swim for miles. In addition, more polar bears die each year from gunshot wounds than from drowning. So instead of rationing carbon energy, maybe the first thing we should do to protect polar bears is to stop shooting them!

Let me close by returning to the lessons my generation learned from the 1970s energy crisis. We learned that energy choices favored by politicians but not confirmed by markets are destined to fail. If history has taught us anything it‟s that we should resist the temptation to ask politicians to substitute their judgments for that of the market, and let markets determine how much energy gets used, what types of energy get used, where, how and by whom energy gets used. In truth, no source of energy is perfect, thus only markets can weigh the pros and cons of each source. Government‟s role is to set reasonable standards for environmental performance, and make sure markets work.

I‟ve covered a lot of ground this morning. I hope I‟ve challenged your thinking about your energy future. Mostly, I hope you continue to enjoy freedom, prosperity – and abundant supplies of energy at prices you can afford! Thank you for your attention, and now I‟ll be glad to take rebuttal!”

EPA CO2 report, OMB memo, White House memo, Senator John Barrasso, smoking gun, Office of Management and Budget, OMB, dubious assumptions, negative economic impact, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, accusing the EPA of making the finding for political reasons

“Leaked OMB CO2 memo: “no demonstrated direct health effects””
“All is not well in CO2 regulation land. You may have heard about a leaked memo from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that questions the EPA findings on CO2 being a “threat to human health”.”

“It has some strong language about the negative impact EPA regulation of CO2 would have on the U.S. economy.”

““Making the decision to regulate CO2…is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities,””

“The memo has no listed author but is marked “Deliberative–Attorney Client Privilege.” A spokesman for OMB told Dow Jones Newswires that the brief is a “conglomeration of counsel we’ve received from various agencies” about the EPA finding, the conclusions of which would trigger regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”

“At a Senate hearing [yesterday], Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) grilled EPA administrator Lisa Jackson about the memo.

“This is a smoking gun,” Barrasso said, accusing the EPA of making the finding for political reasons.”

Read more:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/13/leaked-omb-co2-memo-no-demonstrated-direct-health-effects/#more-7825

H1N1 flu update, May 14, 2009, CDC, Pregnant women risks, population has little to no immunity, Mutations, risk that the viruses will exchange genetic material and get worse

Here is the latest report from the CDC. Three aspects of the H1N1 flu strike me as significant.

  • “The population has little to no immunity against it.”
  • “Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications of influenza.” “We are also seeing some severe complications among pregnant women in this year’s novel H1N1 virus problem” “I think that the H1N1 virus that we’re dealing with is novel, and so, we don’t think pregnant women have ever seen this before or would be protected from it from years past.”
  • “Unfortunately, reassortment happens. And this means that the viruses that we’re seeing can exchange genetic material with other viruses that are circulating. This can happen in humans, in pigs, in birds. And so, we do always have a risk that the viruses will exchange genetic material and get worse, or hopefully, get better, if they do that. So, we do think that the simultaneous occurrence in the world right now of this novel H1N1 strain that appears to be very transmissible, and very virulent H5N1 (Editor′s note – this is a correction) strains that are endemic in animals in certain countries of the world in the avian population, and the seasonal H1N1 strain that is oseltamivir resistant is an unusual circumstance.”

Do not panic. Stay informed.

If you are pregnant, take extra precautions and if possible limit your exposure.

A decision to take a vaccine must be carefully weighed.

 
U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
(As of May 13, 2009, 11:00 AM ET)  States* Laboratory
confirmed
cases Deaths
Alabama 9  
Arizona 187  
California 221  
Colorado 44  
Connecticut 33  
Delaware 54  
Florida 58  
Georgia 8  
Hawaii 6  
Idaho 3  
Illinois 592  
Indiana 70  
Iowa 55  
Kansas 23  
Kentucky** 10  
Louisiana 33  
Maine 6  
Maryland 23  
Massachusetts 107  
Michigan 134  
Minnesota 31  
Missouri 18  
Montana 1  
Nebraska 21  
Nevada 21  
New Hampshire 17  
New Jersey 8  
New Mexico 44  
New York 211  
North Carolina 12  
Ohio 11  
Oklahoma 22  
Oregon 74  
Pennsylvania 22  
Rhode Island 7  
South Carolina 32  
South Dakota 3  
Tennessee 57  
Texas 293 2
Utah 72  
Vermont 1  
Virginia 17  
Washington 176 1
Washington, D.C. 9  
Wisconsin 496  
TOTAL*(45) 3352 cases 3 deaths
*includes the District of Columbia

**one case is resident of KY but currently hospitalized in GA.

Press Briefing Transcripts

CDC Telebriefing on Investigation of Human Cases of H1N1 Flu

May 12, 2009, 12:30 p.m. ET

Operator: Welcome, and thank you all for standing by.  At this time, I would like to remind parties in your lines are in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session, at which time, press star one to ask a question.  Today’s call is being recorded.  If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.  I’ll now turn the meeting over to Tom Skinner, you may begin.

Tom Skinner: Thank you for joining us for the update of an investigation into a novel strain of H1N1.  With us today is Dr. Anne Schuchat.  That is spelled A-N-N-E.  Last name is S-C-H-U-C-H-A-T.  She is the Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health program here at CDC.  She’s going to be providing some opening comments and then we’ll turn it over to reporters for Q&A.  So, Dr. Schuchat? 

Anne Schuchat: Great.  Good afternoon, everyone.  What I want to do is give you a quick situation update; talk little bit in more detail about a clinical group of patients, and then make some closing comments about where I think we are in this investigation. 

So, as of today, there are about 3,600 probable and confirmed cases in 46 states and the District of Columbia.  We have 3,002 confirmed cases in 44 states and D.C., with the most recent onset May 5th.  As you know, there have been three reported fatalities confirmed to be due to the H1N1 virus.  We have 116 hospitalizations that are being investigated at this point.  Most of those have been confirmed to be due to the H1N1 virus.  Our median age remains low at 15 years with a range, though, of 1 month of age up to 86 years.  Almost two-thirds of our confirmed cases are under 18.  Around the world, the case counts are continuing to increase.  There’s a total of 5,251 confirmed cases according to the World Health Organization, and those are occurring in 30 countries with Canada being and the United Kingdom having the largest number of confirmed cases after the U.S. and Mexico. 

In terms of our U.S. situation, you know we’ve had a active response with more than 100 field staff deployed to help with investigations in this country and Mexico.  We’ve deployed the test kits to the states, and I’m happy to report that as of today, 29 of the states are now doing their own confirmatory testing for the novel H1N1 strain.  We’ve sent the lab kits to a number of countries around the world, and testing is a critical part of understanding the situation around the world.  As we continue to investigate, we learn more and we want to share information as we get it. 

I wanted to say a few words today about this novel H1N1 influenza virus and pregnancy.  As many of you know, pregnant women are at higher risk of complications of influenza, whether it’s the seasonal influenza or pandemics of the past.  We are also seeing some severe complications among pregnant women in this year’s novel H1N1 virus problem, and I really want to make you aware of that, because I think it’s something that can have important clinical benefit.  We have about 20 cases under investigation right now where the H1N1 virus has been found in association with pregnancy.  We’re continuing to understand the illness in these patients, and a few of the patients have had severe complications.  As I think many of you know there was one fatality in a pregnant woman.  Influenza can cause worse complications in pregnancy than in people who are not pregnant.  Important complications include pneumonia and dehydration as well as complications for the newborn, like premature labor.  We think it’s very important when doctors are caring for pregnant women who they suspect may have influenza, that they issue prompt treatment with antiviral medicines.  Sometimes, physicians are reluctant to treat pregnant women with medicines, and sometimes pregnant women are reluctant to take medicines because, of course, they are sometimes risky during pregnancy.  The experts who have looked into this situation really strongly say that the benefits of using antiviral drugs to treat influenza in a pregnant woman outweigh the theoretical concerns about the drugs.  We think that either of the two medicines that this virus is susceptible to it be used for this condition.  So, while we don’t have lots and lots of experience yet with this H1N1 virus in pregnancy, it’s important to know, to look back on what we do know about seasonal influenza and pregnancy.  We strongly recommend pregnant women receive the seasonal flu vaccine to protect them from complications of influenza during pregnancy.  And for this novel H1N1 virus, we really want to get the word out about the likely benefits of prompt antiviral treatment in pregnancy when you’re suspecting influenza.  We are going to be issuing an MMWR report with some clinical and some data about the pregnancy cases that we’ve been investigating, and I think I would look for that to come out fairly soon with a little bit more detail than what I’ve shared. 

Yesterday at the media briefing, a few of you had questions about a recent article that came out in “Science Express.”  I think it came out two minutes before the press conference yesterday, so I wasn’t fully prepared, but I wanted to make a couple comments about this.  It’s an article by Christoph Frasier and colleagues called “Pandemic Potential of a Strain of Influenza: H1N1 Early Findings.”  This was a modeling analysis looking at data from Mexico in collaboration with investigators there.  And I think it’s very important that the infectious disease modeling community is aggressively responding to this novel virus and trying to share lessons learned in real time.  It’s important to say that uncertainty remains, that we’re learning more about transmissibility and attack rates.  In the article, the authors concluded that the virus characteristics in Mexico were not of the severity or transmissibility that we had seen in the 1918 pandemic, but they compared it with something of a magnitude of the 1957 pandemic.  It’s important to say that we may see changes as this virus is present in different countries, depending on the health care resources of the countries and the types of interventions that are carried out as well as potential changes that the virus goes through, as influenza viruses can mutate and evolve in the course of their spread.  So, I think this was an important report, and I applaud the authors for taking on this topic, and we hope that the international community will continue to collaborate to learn as much as we can about this new virus and how it behaves in large populations. 

I also want to comment about seasonal influenza.  We have been mentioning, and on our website, you see that we have cases of the regular seasonal flu strains, the seasonal A-H1N1, the seasonal A-H3N2 (Editor′s note – this is a correction), and the seasonal B viruses.  They are continuing to circulate now at a time when this novel H1N1 virus is also circulating.  One thing you can see from our flu view on the website is that there is an uptick of these other viruses in addition to the H1N1 virus.  We don’t think that there was a decrease in seasonal flu and then an increase in seasonal flu.  We think that pattern suggests that more people with influenza-like symptoms are being tested and more of those viruses are being studied so that our efforts to respond to this outbreak have led to recognition of more seasonal influenza.  It’s important to say that a large proportion of the strains currently being tested are due to this novel H1N1 virus, but there are other strains circulating.  So, that’s an important occurrence.  It maybe foreshadows what we have to face next fall, when seasonal strains of influenza are likely to circulate, and we may see this H1N1 strain come back, perhaps, in worse or milder form. 

The last comment is just to continue to say that vaccine development efforts have been of interest.  This is the time when we are growing up isolates to potentially identify a candidate virus that would be handed off to manufacturers to work on manufacturing or development stages.  CDC has sent five isolates to several different institutions around the world where candidate vaccines, viruses could be developed.  And there are active discussions being carried out across the U.S. government, including with manufacturers, to understand next steps and potential vaccine development and manufacturing.  So, in closing my prepared remarks, I just want to say that I think we are transitioning to the long view now.  We have a focus on the southern hemisphere, where illness may be on the upswing soon, and where we hope to learn as much as possible to help them respond and also to learn for what might be the case here in the northern hemisphere next year.  We’re also preparing for the fall, including exploration of vaccine development and manufacturing discussions.  We’re also trying to learn as much as we can from the experience of the past few weeks so that we can be better prepared going forward.  So, with that, I’d like to answer questions that you might have. 

Tom Skinner: First question, Rose? 

Operator: Our first question is from Elizabeth Weise, USA Today.  Your line is open.

Elizabeth Weise: Hi, thank you for taking my question.  I wanted to go back to your focus on pregnant women and the specific problems they face.  You said you have about 20.  Do you have any sense of percentages, about what percentage of pregnant women might be at risk for this?  Is pregnancy in and of itself the main, underlying condition, or is it pregnant women who also have other underlying conditions as well? 

Anne Schuchat: Pregnancy is a well-documented risk factor for complications of influenza.  It’s not that we think pregnant women get influenza, seasonal flu, for instance, more than other people, but we think when they suffer an infection with influenza, they can have a worse time.  For instance, they may develop pneumonia, they may develop dehydration, and their metabolic system may not be able to handle the infection as well.  So, there are a number of reasons that pregnant women can have a worse time, including some complications, such as preterm labor and complications for the newborn.  So, this is a group that we include among our populations at higher risk for influenza complications, and that’s why for the past several years we’ve been strongly recommending women who are pregnant receive the influenza vaccine, to protect them and to have a better outcome of their pregnancy. 

Elizabeth Weise: Follow-up question.  Is there then the sense that this H1N1 novel influenza is any worse or better than seasonal flu when it comes to pregnant women, or is it just you’re trying to reiterate to women that they shouldn’t be afraid to take antivirals and to see a doctor if they get it? 

Anne Schuchat: You know, I think that the H1N1 virus that we’re dealing with is novel, and so, we don’t think pregnant women have ever seen this before or would be protected from it from years past.  Many years with seasonal flu strains circulating, a lot of pregnant women may have some immunity to the strands that are circulating.  We still think vaccination’s a good idea for pregnant women, but I think because of this — because this H1N1 virus is targeting younger people and because it’s totally new and because we know that pregnancy is a risk factor for worse complications, we really want to focus our attention on it and make sure that pregnant women and their health care providers have this concern in mind.  Next question? 

Operator: The next is from Jennifer Corbett, Dow Jones.  Your lone is open.

Jennifer Corbett: Yeah, hi.  I have two questions.  The one — do you recommend for seasonal flu that women, pregnant women, take antivirals or is this specific to the H1N1?  And then the other question I had is at the top you mentioned that there’s been a death of a pregnant woman.  Was that one of the women in Texas?  Was she the one in Texas? 

Anne Schuchat: That’s right about the fatality we do think that when influenza occurs in pregnancy, it should be treated with antivirals.  The message today, the time of year we’re at right now, the majority of what we’re seeing that is influenza-like illness, or half of what we’re seeing is this H1N1 strain, so it’s in this circumstance that we’re really trying to remind people that treatment of influenza-like illness in pregnancy is appropriate.  We don’t know as much as we would like to know about the H1N1 virus that we’re seeing.  And certainly, every day we’re learning little bit more.  As we’ve accumulated some experience with this illness, we are trying to share clinical, interim clinical recommendations.  So, I think that things could change as we get further along in the investigation, but so far, of course, one of our three fatalities was a very sad story in a woman who was pregnant.  Next question, please? 

Operator: The next is from Mike Stobbe, Associated Press. Your line is open.

Mike Stobbe: Hi, thanks for taking the call.  Doctor, that “Science” article had an estimate about when the virus might have first appeared.  Can you tell us, you know, as this has been going on, what’s science telling you at this point about when it first appeared?  Did it first appear in a pig?  Who infected who?  Do you have any update on that?  And I have a second question. 

Anne Schuchat: Yeah, the paper in “Science” talked about beginning — there’s a virus emerging in the middle of February, and I think the working hypotheses for much of the influenza community right now is that this strain was circulating in pigs somewhere, and eventually, you know, reassorted and was able to infect humans easier, the people got it and then it became easily transmitted between people.  That’s a working hypothesis, but of course, the scientific community and CDC included is very open to other hypotheses.  We don’t have new information about the specific origins.  We think that’s an important investigation that the scientific and public health community is taking on, but so, the clinical illness — that paper suggested mid-February, and we don’t have reason to believe that humans were having a large problem with this before that.  But of course, you know, investigations are active in a number of places. 

Mike Stobbe: Okay.  My second question — we’ve begun to see announcements from companies about the availability of commercial tests for this novel virus coming online.  Can you assess those for me?  Are those good tests?  Are they solid?  Are they starting to contribute to the case counts? 

Anne Schuchat: I won’t — I don’t have the information to be able to answer the question.  I’m sorry.  I think that it’s — you know, we have disseminated information on sequence and the primers and probes that can be used to identify this virus.  We’ve also distributed agents and test kits for the public health laboratory network to be able to recognize this.  It’s very possible for manufacturers, biotech companies, to make kits that would work similarly to the ones the CDC has distributed.  There’s usually a validation process that goes forward, and I’m not — I don’t know whether there’s any systemic evaluation of the commercially produced kits that — I don’t know if CDC’s involved in any of that.  So, sorry about that.

Tom Skinner: Next question, Rose.

Operator: The next is from Michael Smith, Med Page Today.  Your line is open.

Michael Smith: Dr. Schuchat, you talked about antivirals in connection with pregnant women.  On the Hubra press conference earlier today, they said that antivirals are being aggressively used in Europe, where they’re mainly employee cases, and were being reserved really largely for serious cases in the U.S. and Mexico.  Can you comment on how antivirals are being used in the U.S.? 

Anne Schuchat: Yes, that’s right.  The circumstances in the U.S. are very different from the circumstances in a number of European countries.  We have this virus in every — pretty much, almost every state in the country, and suspected it’s likely already to the states that haven’t confirmed it yet.  We don’t have a situation where we can contain the virus’s geographic distribution, and our focus is on reducing illness and death and mitigating the impact that this virus has as well as focusing our efforts on areas where they can have the most impact.  So, the priority here is for antiviral drugs for treatment of influenza, where we think the treatment will make a difference, and that’s for people with severe illness presentation or for people who have underlying medical conditions or pregnancy, where the complications of an influenza infection might be worse than in other people.  So, our focus for antiviral drugs is primarily on treatment.  And we are aware that there are some other countries where there’s a lot of preventive use of antiviral drugs around the traveler, around the first case that they’ve seen.  That circumstance is not likely to have a benefit here in the United States based on the transmission patterns we’re seeing and the stage of the outbreak that was present by the time we recognized this virus.  Did you have a follow-up question, or —

Michael Smith: No, that’s good.  Thank you. 

Anne Schuchat: Okay.  Is there another question? 

Operator: The next is from Emma Hitt, Medscape, your line is open.

Emma Hitt: Yes, hi, thank you for taking my question.  You talk about the novel H1N1 virus coming back during the fall.  Is that a certainty?  And will it definitely pick up back in the fall?  And also, do you expect the H1N1 virus to be more robust during the summer months than the seasonal flu strain? 

Anne Schuchat: We wish that we knew what was going to happen in the fall.  Influenza is usually seasonal, and usually, there is very limited circulation in the northern hemisphere during our summer months.  But there is increased circulation in the southern hemisphere during that same time period.  We don’t know whether the novel H1N1 virus will circulate in the U.S. next fall, and if it circulates, whether it will be more severe, of similar severity or less severe than now.  We think that if we have good information coming from the southern hemisphere and we see a lot of disease or severe disease associated with this virus, that that would increase the likelihood that we would continue to see problems in the fall.  But we, unfortunately, cannot predict.  The other thing is that these viruses continue to change.  Because we have seasonal influenza strains, including an H1N1 strain that is resistant to oseltamivir and zinamivir.  But because we have an H1N1 strain that’s circulating that’s resistant and we have this novel H1N1 strain, we also don’t know whether there might be a reassortment between the human seasonal flu strain and the novel strain.  So, there’s a lot of unknowns, a lot of uncertainties and a real priority to have good laboratory surveillance and monitoring of the circumstances in the southern hemisphere and the ongoing occurrence here in the U.S.  Next question? 
Operator: The next is from Allen Miranda.  Your line is open. 

Alan Miranda: Hi.  Well, I would like to follow up on what you just said.  You said also at the beginning that there are also other kinds of viruses circulating.  And I was about to ask you, if this virus could reassort with any other kind, any other strain, Avian flu, for instance. 

Anne Schuchat: Unfortunately, reassortment happens. And this means that the viruses that we’re seeing can exchange genetic material with other viruses that are circulating.  This can happen in humans, in pigs, in birds.  And so, we do always have a risk that the viruses will exchange genetic material and get worse, or hopefully, get better, if they do that.  So, we do think that the simultaneous occurrence in the world right now of this novel H1N1 strain that appears to be very transmissible, and very virulent H5N1 (Editor′s note – this is a correction) strains that are endemic in animals in certain countries of the world in the avian population, and the seasonal H1N1 strain that is oseltamivir resistant is an unusual circumstance.  Certainly, our efforts to control seasonal influenza with our annual immunization campaign will be important, and of course, there are discussions going on about vaccine development and potentially manufacturing and even use, eventually, of an H1N1 virus vaccine.  Those are important discussions, as well as the ongoing efforts to try to control the Avian H5N1 problem in birds in some of the world.  Next question? 

Operator: I’m showing no questions at this time. 

Tom Skinner: Okay.  Rose, thank you, and thank you all for joining us for this update.  Please stay tuned and continue to go to http://www.cdc.gov for updated information, and we’ll keep you apprised as developments warrant.  Thank you. 

End

####

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

CDC H1N1 Flu Update, May 8, 2009, Illinois, IL largest reports, US Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection, Obama and Baxter International Chicago, IL connections

** Update, The lastest CDC numbers are at the bottom. 5/08/2009, 12:15 PM ET **

I, like many of you, am watching reports of the Swine flu, H1N1, more carefully each day. I have been visiting the CDC site with regularity and due to my math background and inquisitive nature, something  in the data stood out this morning. It may mean nothing, but it is a curiousity, and given Obama’s connections to Chicago and Baxter International being located there, there is cause for more scrutiny.

Notice in the CDC report of confirmed flu cases by state that Illinois has almost twice as many cases as the next highest state. Illinois has 204, California, with a much higher population and located adjacent to Mexico has 106, Texas with a large population and located adjacent to Mexico has 91 and New York with a much larger population has 98. The more I have pondered these numbers and logistics, the more curious I have become.

CDC Human Cases of H1N1 Flu by state:

http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm

Let me know what you think

 

 

U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
 
 
 

 

States

 

 

 

 

Laboratory
confirmed
cases

 

 

 

 

Deaths

 

 

 

 

 
Alabama    

4    

   
Arizona    

48    

   
California    

106    

   
Colorado    

17    

   
Connecticut    

4    

   
Delaware    

38    

   
Florida    

5    

   
Georgia    

3    

   
Hawaii    

3    

   
Idaho    

1    

   
Illinois    

204    

   
Indiana    

15    

   
Iowa    

5    

   
Kansas    

7    

   
Kentucky*    

2    

   
Louisiana    

7    

   
Maine    

4    

   
Maryland    

4    

   
Massachusetts    

71    

   
Michigan    

9    

   
Minnesota    

1    

   
Missouri    

4    

   
Nebraska    

4    

   
Nevada    

5    

   
New Hampshire    

2    

   
New Jersey    

7    

   
New Mexico    

8    

   
New York    

98    

   
North Carolina    

7    

   
Ohio    

5    

   
Oklahoma    

1    

   
Oregon    

15    

   
Pennsylvania    

2    

   
Rhode Island    

2    

   
South Carolina    

17    

   
Tennessee    

2    

   
Texas    

91    

2    

 
Utah    

8    

   
Virginia    

11    

   
Washington    

23    

   
Wisconsin    

26    

   
TOTAL (41)    

896 cases    

2 deaths    

 
(As of May 7, 2009, 11:00 AM ET) 

 

U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection

States*

 

Laboratory
confirmed
cases

 

Deaths

 

 
Alabama 

   
Arizona 

131 

   
California 

107 

   
Colorado 

25 

   
Connecticut 

   
Delaware 

39 

   
Florida 

   
Georgia 

   
Hawaii 

   
Idaho 

   
Illinois 

392 

   
Indiana 

29 

   
Iowa 

   
Kansas 

12 

   
Kentucky** 

   
Louisiana 

   
Maine 

   
Maryland 

   
Massachusetts 

83 

   
Michigan 

49 

   
Minnesota 

   
Missouri 

   
Nebraska 

   
Nevada 

   
New Hampshire 

   
New Jersey 

   
New Mexico 

   
New York 

174 

   
North Carolina 

   
Ohio 

   
Oklahoma 

   
Oregon 

15 

   
Pennsylvania 

   
Rhode Island 

   
South Carolina 

29 

   
South Dakota 

   
Tennessee 

36 

   
Texas 

93 

 
Utah 

24 

   
Virginia 

14 

   
Washington 

33 

   
Washington, D.C. 

   
Wisconsin 

240 

   
TOTAL*(43) 

1639 cases 

2 deaths 

 

(As of May 8, 2009, 11:00 AM ET)