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Chief health officer: There is no reason to sell Tamiflu

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The man diagnosed with the H1N1 virus has only light symptoms. Doctors say he should recover fully within a week.

The first person diagnosed with swine flu in the Czech Republic was in contact with nine other people: members of his family and colleagues at work. None of them has yet been diagnosed with the disease. Even the patient was not prescribed Tamiflu because his case is not deemed serious enough.

Experts are still not considering releasing the state reserves of this medicine to pharmacies, where anyone could buy it. “I can tell you what it would look like – there would be none of those 50,000 doses left in a week,” says Michael Vít, the country’s chief health officer. “Moreover, they would have been taken uselessly.”

Has the patient been given Tamiflu?
After the anonymous victim arrived at the hospital, he was given common antibiotics and he now has no symptoms. He was not given Tamiflu because it would have been more than 48 hours after his arrival anyway.

So this one patient could overcome the disease without any major complications?

I firmly believe that, based on how he’s been monitored, he currently has no more symptoms.

So that means that he has been cured?
We are taking some more tests so that we can be sure. It cannot be judged from his symptoms now whether he’s been cured. It will be clearer in two or three days at the earliest.

How long was the patient moving freely in the Czech Republic before he went to see the doctor?
One day.

How did you discover the case?
The patient was very well informed and realized that, even though he didn’t have a fever, he was having some breathing problems and was not even able to climb up the stairs in the house where he lives. And so he went to the teaching hospital in Motol, where they found out that he had been in the place with the highest rate of the disease and that he was suffering from breathing difficulties. So they immediately started examining him for the presence of swine flu. It was a perfect reaction from our colleagues.

With whom did this person come into contact?
With members of his family and colleagues from work.

Why is the man in home quarantine?

Because his symptoms were not serious. He didn’t have the usual symptoms diagnosed with infected people in the United States or Europe. He didn’t have the dominant symptoms. That’s why he’s in home isolation.

When can he return back to normal life?
The disease lasts for seven days, so I hope the man will be healthy in a week and there will be no complications.

What do you foresee for Tamiflu supplies?
Our procedure has been quite standard. I went to Geneva, where pandemic preparedness was discussed. I must say there was a big debate on how big the vaccination reserves should be – for what percentage of population. We’ve been keeping to a totally standard procedure; we are dealing with all producers and our pandemic plan remains effective.

Will the government’s ban on selling Tamiflu in pharmacies be abolished? What ‘s the future for this medicine?
The government block … Firstly, we didn’t ban it: It was our recommendation because the effect of every such critical situation is panic. And we are responsible for having a sufficient stock of this medicine for those who really need it. We cannot afford to have people store this medicine at home when they don’t need it.

We decided that stocks that are designed for healthcare facilities would only be used in those. Individual teaching hospitals should have this medicine. Currently, we are not considering releasing those 50,000 doses that we have in stock to the pharmacy market. Since I already have some experience, I can tell you what it would look like – there would be nothing of those 50,000 doses left in a week. Moreover, they would have been taken needlessly.

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