Sunil Gupta

Sunil Gupta, Central team leader

It was unprecedented. The Centre responded to an SOS from Health Secretary of Kerala for vaccines and medicines and Central team to study the spread of swine flu in the State the same day. The team lands in the State the next day and the medicines and vaccines within a few days.

Never before had the Centre sent in a team to the State so quickly, whether it was epidemic or natural calamities.

The Health Secretary had requested 31000 vaccines in addition to 45000 already received and 6.5 lakh tablets of tamilflu to augment the stock of 1.5 lakhs. The vaccines were for use on health personnel who were considered a high risk group. The Secretary had also sought one lakh imported Sanafu vaccines for administration to pregnant women. This, the Centre is yet to concede because of safety and other implications, though the lobbying for its release is on.

What was the hullabaloo all about? About 200 H1N1 cases were confirmed from Trivandrum and Kollam districts of Kerala over a month. Some cases had been reported from Malappuram and elsewhere. 16 persons had died of whom nine were pregnant women. They had died because they were not administered Tamiflue in time. (The Secretary admits that. Then, what was the need for vaccines?). Later, the confirmed H1N1 cases rose to 275 and deaths were about 20. Around the same time, more than 200 persons had died of other variants of influenza and fever.

Do we see a hand behind the hype about H1N1 in Kerala?