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1st Bird-Flu Vaccine Only Partly Effective

Rating

5 Star

1st Bird-Flu Vaccine Only Partly Effective

Our Review Summary

This is an informative summary on the results of the trial of the vaccine against the bird flu stockpiled by the U.S. government as a first step toward a preventative measure against a virulent though not yet highly contagious flu among humans.

This article did a good job of summarizing the results of the current study – that 54% of those getting the highest dose appeared to mount an immune response to this strain of flu as compared with 75-90% of those receiving typical winter-flu vaccine having a similar immune response (and at a dose that is 12 times lower than that needed to attain this level of immunity with bird-flu).

In presenting the lack of harms associated with even the high doses of antigen needed to trigger the desired immune response, the article included an important caveat about elderly individuals typically faring worse than the healthy young people tested.

Good use of multiple sources.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Costs were not mentioned, but since the story is about an early vaccine trial (one that showed the vaccine to have less than desirable effectiveness), we think cost is not applicable in this case.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The benefit of treatment, immune responsiveness to bird flu, was accurately reported as occurring in 54% of those receiving the highest dose of the vaccine administered.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

In presenting the lack of harms associated with even the high doses of antigen needed to trigger the desired immune response, the article included an important caveat about elderly individuals typically faring worse than the healthy young people tested.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

This article did a good job of summarizing the results of the current study – that 54% of those getting the highest dose appeared to mount an immune response to this strain of flu as compared with 75-90% of those receiving typical winter-flu vaccine having a similar immune response (and at a dose that is 12 times lower than that needed to attain this level of immunity with bird-flu).

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

In some ways this story avoided a hysterical tone when discussing a possible bird flu pandemic. But it did include a picture of workers in hazmat suits and if offered the calculation that with the current iteration of vaccine it would be possible to fully immunize a mere 1.25% of the population when a portion of that population has never been vaccinated against the flu. This threw off the otherwise well-maintained balance of the report on this potential public health issue.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

Quotes from an accompanying editorial, a member of the panel monitoring the vaccine’s safety and the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the National Institutes of Health augment the information presented in the article in the New England Journal of Medicine upon which the story was based.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The article mentions ongoing studies with the goal of improving the vaccine so that protection against bird flu could be accomplished with loser doses.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

This article reported on what it terms ‘the first human testing’ of vaccine against the bird flu. While mentioning other studies underway, and not explicitly stating that this vaccine is not currently available to the public, a thread throughout the piece made it clear that vaccine against this strain of flu was still a work in progress.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

This article reported on the efficacy of the first vaccine against the bird flu which has been added to the nation’s vaccine stockpile.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Does not appear to rely solely or largely on a press release.

Total Score: 8 of 9 Satisfactory

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