After more than two weeks of waiting, we finally have some word from the World Health Organization on the testing of virus samples taken from Ukraine.
As many of you probably know, rumors have been flying about a `mutated virus’ in that region since late October (see See Ukraine And The Internet Rumor Mill).
The wording of today’s statement leaves some room for testing to have found minor changes in the H1N1 virus (not unexpected), but the WHO describes the virus as being antigenically `similar’ to the pandemic virus circulating around the world.
In other words, no significant mutation, according to the WHO.
Many scientists, no doubt, are eagerly awaiting the publication of the genetic sequences from these samples – to find out what changes (if any) have occurred.
A hat tip to Alert on FluTrackers for posting this update.
Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, Ukraine - update 2
17 November 2009 -- Preliminary tests reveal no significant changes in the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus based on investigations of samples taken from patients in Ukraine. Analyses are being performed by two WHO influenza collaborating centres as part of the global influenza surveillance network.
Preliminary genetic sequencing shows that the virus is similar to the virus used for production of the pandemic influenza vaccine, reconfirming the vaccine's efficacy at this time.
Additional questions about the pandemic virus circulating in Ukraine will be answered as more data is available.
WHO commends the government of Ukraine for its open sharing of samples to inform global monitoring of the virus for signs of change.
A total of 34 samples were analysed independently by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, Mill Hill in London, UK, and the WHO Collaborating Centre for the Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control of Influenza in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.