Monday, November 2, 2009

'60 Minutes' Report on H1N1 (11-1-09)

Read the report/transcript. (video) Excerpt below:

In mid-October, Luke Duvall was in a fight for his life against H1N1. Pelley met him and his parents, Chad and Belinda, at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

Luke was breathing only with the help of a ventilator. He would be on the machine 17 days.

Nearly three weeks later, Luke was off the ventilator and in physical therapy. He is still being fed through a tube in his nose and he has a long way to go to get his strength back, but he has beaten H1N1.

"Well, the only way I can describe it to somebody who hadn't gone through it was its almost like somebody hit me with a cannonball in the chest," he said.

Luke's harrowing struggle wasn't lost on his neighbors. Before dawn Friday, people who had been praying for their local football star were lining up for vaccine. But supplies were scarce; Arkansas says it is short about a million doses.

We went to a mall in Manassas, Va., where after three hours they vaccinated 550 people, ran out of vaccine, and turned 350 away.

Last summer, the government said there would be 120 million doses of vaccine by fall; weeks later, it revised that to 40 million. Now, just over 17 million have shipped - 14 percent of the first estimate.

Experts agree the government decoded the virus to prepare a vaccine in record time, a real achievement. But then the project hit snags.

The vaccine took longer than expected to produce, and there were shortages of supplies, like the sprayer for the FluMist version.

The H1N1 vaccine is being produced in a sprawling, $250 million facility in Swiftwater, Pa. Like other vaccines, the H1N1 virus is grown in chicken eggs, in an updated version of a process that has been around since World War II.

"Viruses are unique in that they require a living host to propagate. And the egg provides essentially a small, self-contained, sterile factory for the production of the vaccine," Sam Lee, director of manufacturing technology at French drug company Sanofi Pasteur, explained.

The plant has to be as clean as a hospital operating room. Pelley and the "60 Minutes" team put on clean suits and hairnets and passed through airlocks to reach the production line.

Five companies are making vaccine, but this is the only one in America.

"I see all these needles going into the top of the egg. Is that the virus going into the egg itself?" Pelley asked, observing the production process.

"There's the needle that comes down," Lee said. "The virus is then introduced directly to the egg. The eggs exit the machine. And are loaded onto carts. These carts are then wheeled into incubators, where they're environmentally controlled for temperature and humidity."

The virus grows in the eggs; later it is killed and refined into vaccine. The process takes three months. Most of that is testing for safety and sterility. Sanofi Pasteur has a federal contract to make 75 million doses. They will go through millions of eggs.

Asked if the farms producing the eggs are near the vaccine plant, Lee told Pelley, "Because of security reasons, I'm not at liberty to share specific, exact locations."

"These are secret egg farms?" Pelley asked.

"We don't want to reveal the location for security reasons," Lee said.

Rush Limbaugh on 'FOX News Sunday': Transcript (11-1-09)

Read the complete transcript. See video here. Excerpt below:

WALLACE: This week it will be one year since Barack Obama was elected president. In that time, what has he done for and to the country? LIMBAUGH: I think it's all to. I don't think there's any for. I'm -- Chris, I'm -- I'm really, really worried. We've never seen this kind of radical leadership at such a high level of power in the -- in the country.

I believe that the economy is under siege, is being destroyed. Anybody with any economic literacy would not do one thing this administration's done to try to revitalize the private sector. They're destroying it.

And I have to think that it may be on purpose, because this is just outrageous, what is happening -- a denial of liberty, an attack on freedom.

I mean, just -- just a couple days ago, they talked about these 650,000 jobs that they've created or saved. There's no such thing as a saved job. Besides that, they've destroyed jobs. They've lost 3.3 million jobs in this country since Obama's stimulus plan, and it's going to get worse.

WALLACE: But -- but wait a minute. How about save the country from a financial abyss, 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter in GDP?

LIMBAUGH: There wasn't any growth in the private sector. That 3.5 percent came from two things -- government spending on "Cash for Clunkers" -- they just moved fourth quarter auto sales into the third quarter -- and the first-time home buyer thing.

GDP equals CIG -- that is, consumers, the investment of business, and government. And it's all G. It's all government. There is no private sector growth. There were no new jobs being created. We're losing them.

WALLACE: How about kept the country safe for nine months?

LIMBAUGH: I don't know how safe we are. Iran is nuking up. Everything that we've asked them to do they are forgetting. They're not going to move their plutonium, their enriched plutonium -- uranium out of the country like they said so.

We can't make up our minds what we're going to do in Afghanistan. We're dithering there. I don't -- I don't think we're any better off in any way it could be measured.

WALLACE: You have now taken to calling Mr. Obama "the man-child president."


WALLACE: What does that mean?

LIMBAUGH: Just -- he's (inaudible) he's a child. I think he's -- he's got a -- a five-minute career. He was in the Senate for 150 days. He was a community organizer in Chicago for however number of years. He really has no experience running anything. He's very young. I think he's got an out-of-this-world ego. He's very narcissistic. And he's able to focus all attention on him all the time. That -- that description is simply a way to cut through the noise and say he's immature, inexperienced, in over his head.

WALLACE: Let's talk about a couple of the big issues the president is dealing with now -- first of all, Afghanistan. You suggest that he is taking all of this time to decide what to do in Afghanistan to keep his left-wing base on board for health care reform.

LIMBAUGH: Well, it's partly that, but I also don't think he cares much about it. I think once...

WALLACE: Well, come on.

LIMBAUGH: No, I -- no, see, this is -- I know this is going to sound controversial, but I don't think he cares that -- if he -- Chris, if he cared about -- we've got soldiers and their families worrying about what we're going to do. The general on the ground said we need some more troops.

The policy that he implemented in March he now doesn't like and is trying to figure out how best to make everybody happy here politically on his side of the aisle and also for his image. Democrats have a tendency to be seen as weak on defense, so he's battling with that.

But again, if he cared about victory -- remember, he said about Afghanistan victory is not something he's comfortable with, the concept. It reminds him of the Japanese surrendering on the USS Missouri. It made him very uncomfortable.

He wants to manage this rather than achieve victory. He says these things. I don't know if people actually listen and have them register when he does.