Mike the Mad Biologist

Tamiflu, Influenza, and Resistance…

…Oh my? The CDC is being very smart about this issue. As long time readers of this blog will know, the Mad Biologist is very concerned about the evolution of resistance to antibacterials (antibiotics) and antivirals. One such antiviral is Tamiflu which is used to treat influenza infections.

The CDC has flown in experts on the evolution of antiviral resistance to advise them on when and how Tamiflu should be used, so as to limit the evolution of resistance to Tamiflu.

And the CDC seems to be listening. You might have noticed that there has been very little public discussion of Tamiflu–the CDC and other public health departments have urged rest, fluids, and Tylenol for all but the most serious cases (which is very good advice).

The reason this matters is that, right now anyway, the best (very educated with some math) guesses I’ve heard is that this will basically play out as an additional round of seasonal influenza with more infections among young, healthy adults due to the lack of immunity. We wouldn’t want to resistance to evolve when, overwhelmingly, most cases will resolve on their own (and without extensive hospitalization).

Well done CDC (and we could do far worse than keeping Besser in charge of the place. Gerbeding who?)


  1. #1 Judith Baumel
    April 30, 2009


    I couldn’t agree with you more! Besser is such a relief.

    You might be interested to see the comments my friend Philip Alcabes made about this same topic. He just published *Dread: How Fear and Fantasy have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to Avian Flu* and he has a smart take on the swine flu swoon. http://www.philipalcabes.com

  2. #2 kelly
    April 30, 2009

    The flu vaccination in Singapore did not work. My friend caught a cold one month after being innoculated!

  3. #3 hat_eater
    April 30, 2009

    Kelly, you might want to have a look at this:
    In short, flu and cold are different ilnesses. Flu shots don’t protect from common cold.

  4. #4 TomJoe
    April 30, 2009

    IIRC, the strains of H1N1 going around this year were showing high resistance to Tamiflu, but not Relenza.

  5. #5 Jim Spice
    April 30, 2009

    What I don’t get, is why stocks of Glaxo Smith Kline and Roche, makers of Tamiflue and Relenza, have not gone through the roof,

  6. #6 skippy
    April 30, 2009

    just stopped by to say thx for your level head on this hysteria, mike!

  7. #7 Rosistas
    May 1, 2009

    Please explain the anitviral medication on a cellular level.
    thank you,

  8. #8 tamiflu
    May 1, 2009

    nice article

  9. #9 antibiotics
    January 18, 2010

    Great and very interesting article!
    But explaining about this medication is very needed…

  10. #10 online medicamente
    March 11, 2010

    stopped by to say thx for your level head on this hysteria!

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