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07 August 2009
Antivirals and Swine Flu

Despite the summer heat, swine flu is spreading around our country as it is doing elsewhere around the globe. So far there has not been any mortality directly from it in Malta and we all would like things to remain so until the pandemic dies out. The government has a good stock of the antiviral Tamiflu which at present is being given for free only to those people who are tested positive for swine flu and fall within the vulnerable category of patients. The problem with this system is that by the time a patient is seen to by his doctor and all arrangements are made for swabbing, testing and issuing of the antiviral capsules, up to 48 hours could have passed. This decreases the effectiveness of Tamiflu as this medicine must be taken within 48 hours that symptoms appear. The national pandemic committee should discuss changing the strategy of making Tamiflu available to the effected vulnerable patients, thus making them starting the capsules earlier on in the infective process.

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