Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TEDx UMN: Rethinking Influenza Vaccines



# 6298


Constant readers are aware that I am an unabashed fan of TED Talks, and have featured a number of them in this blog.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and participants are invited to `give the 18 minute talk of their lives’ before a live audience.


I was first turned onto the TED Talks when a friend sent me a link to the winner of 2006’s TED Prize, Dr. Larry Brilliant's presentation on his dream of a new global system that can identify and contain pandemics before they spread. If you’ve never seen this speech, I urge you to watch it now.


There are now over 1100 TED talks on a myriad of subjects, freely available for viewing on the TED Website, and you could spend weeks exploring the site. You can also subscribe to them on itunes or view them on Youtube.


So popular have the official TED TALKS become that local, independently organized versions of them (called TEDx) have sprung up around the world. 


TEXx describes their mission as:


Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis


And now there are hundreds of local TEDx events held around the world every month. Their website provides information on upcoming events.


Last weekend the University of Minnesota held a day-long TEDx event (TEDxUMN) , which was live-streamed on the internet, and those videos are now online.


While I would invite you to view all of the talks, I wanted to call attention to one in particular, delivered by Nick Kelley -  preparedness program coordinator at CIDRAP – on Rethinking Influenza Vaccines.


The TEDxUMN talks are archived in two videos on this page, and you’ll find Nick’s in the second (bottom) video, at time stamp 2:16:35




Nick’s message is that influenza vaccines – while providing modest (59%) protection in healthy adults (under 65) – are in dire need of improvement. Worse, our inability to produce vaccines quickly seriously limits their value in a pandemic.


Despite these deficits, today’s flu vaccine remain our best weapon against influenza.


Nick argues that our acceptance of today’s vaccine technology as being `good enough’ serves as a psychological barrier to investing in, and developing, better vaccine technologies.


I’ll not give away the rest of his talk.


Follow this link to watch Nick’s entire presentation, and while you are at it, take a look at some of the other dozen plus TEDxUMN presentations.



Personal Note:  I’ll be away from my desk for much of the next three days, and while I’ll have my laptop with me, blogging and updates to this site may be light until Friday.

As always, Crofsblog, Arkanoid Legent, FluTrackers, the Flu Wiki  and Maryn McKenna’s Superbug Blog are terrific resources in Flublogia.