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Originally published September 18 2009

Health Authorities: Tamiflu Won't be Available for "Regular" People who are Infected by Swine Flu

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged that antiviral drugs not be used on everyone who becomes infected with the H1N1 swine flu, reserving the medication for the most critically ill patients.

"We will recommend to consider the use of antivirals for high-risk groups or the group of people at increased risk, depending on the availability," said Dr. Nikki Shindo of the WHO.

Roche's Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza have been shown to be effective against H1N1 swine flu, which has infected more than 5,000 people in 20 countries. Although the virus is only slightly more contagious and severe than regular flu strains, it has exhibited characteristics of pandemic flu in Mexico, killing young and otherwise healthy people.

Health officials worry that H1N1 could hybridize with another flu strain, such as the H5N1 avian flu or a seasonal flu variety, leading to a more lethal, virulent strain.

"The working hypotheses for much of the influenza community right now is that this strain was circulating in pigs somewhere and eventually reassorted and was able to infect humans easier," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "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."

"The overall severity of a pandemic is further influenced by the tendency of pandemics to encircle the globe in at least two, sometimes three, waves," the WHO said.

Global stockpiles of Tamiflu and Relenza have been seriously depleted by the outbreak, leading Roche to announce a donation of 5.6 million doses to the WHO and an increase in production.

The WHO advised that pregnant women, in particular, receive antivirals at once. Most people, however, should be able to recover through home remedies, particularly if they remain well hydrated.

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