The health department in Hanoi has had no reported cases of narcolepsy after the World Health Organization introduced the Pandemrix-vaccination.
According to Nguyen Nhat Cam, from the Preventive Medicine Center in Hanoi, the vaccination plan against H1N1 flu had begun last September and since no cases of narcolepsy have been reported.
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Pandemrix has not yet received a license from the Drug Administration of Vietnam, so the vaccine can not be used yet.
Dr. Graham Harrison, WHO’s Acting Representative in Vietnam, said in an interview that they were aware of a recent report published in Finland claiming that Pandemrix-vaccination contributed to an increase in the incidents of narcolepsy amongst individuals 4 -19 years of age.
The Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare (NIHW) had stated that the most likely explanation could be that the increase in narcolepsy was associated with other additional factors.
However, the NIHW also stated that the nature of the association between narcolepsy and Pandemrix vaccine requires deeper investigation and should not be assumed to be a casual relationship. WHO welcomed and applauded the transparency of NIHW but also agreed with NIHW that more research needs to be done, both into the facts of the data and into the possible causes of narcolepsy before any definitive conclusions could be reached.
NIHW states that in further investigations, special attention will be given to infections and other stimuli in close association with the pandemic vaccination. The significance of possible infection by other factors will be explored, as will other co-factors contributing to the onset of narcolepsy, such as epidemiologic, immunologic and genetic factors.
A number of scientific studies will be required to evaluate the possible association and may take several months to complete. WHO supports a thorough examination of any possible link between influenza A (H1N1) vaccine and narcolepsy and WHO will continue to examine the evidence as it comes.
Concerning the first fatal case of H1N1 in Hanoi, the Preventive Medicine Center said that the patient was a 52 year old man from the Dong Anh District of Hanoi. The patient was hospitalized in the Bach Mai hospital on January 22 with respiratory disorder and subsequent tests proved he was H1N1 positive.
His condition worsened with viscera failure by January 27, so his relatives took him home where he died. Health authorities disinfected his entire surroundings.
Since October 2010, nearly 14,000 H1N1 infectious cases have been reported in many European countries.