Midday Roundup: Renegade flu strain defies this year's vaccine

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/09/14, 11:28 am

Flu shot fail? Experts fear this year’s flu vaccine may not provide complete protection. That’s because a “drifted,” or mutated, strain of the H3N2 version of the flu has emerged, and it’s not covered by the flu shot. “H3N2 viruses tend to be associated with more severe seasons,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The rate of hospitalization and death can be twice as high or more than flu seasons when H3 doesn’t predominate.” Even if this year’s vaccine isn’t completely effective, it still provides the best possible protection, since other strains of the flu are also present in the population, Frieden said.

Mega-march. Protests continued for a third night in a row in Berkeley, Calif., over two recent grand jury decisions in support of officers who killed suspects they were attempting to arrest, one in New York City and one in Ferguson, Mo. Hundreds of people marched through the city Monday night, blocking Interstate 80 and stopping a train. More than 150 people were arrested, though no one was injured, nor was any looting reported.

Public health win. Worldwide malaria deaths have taken an unprecedented downturn since 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. Among the good news: Global mortality rates from the disease fell by 47 percent between 2000 and 2013, and 13 of 97 malarial countries reported no cases of the disease last year. But the WHO warned malaria could surge in West Africa, where the Ebola virus epidemic has diverted health resources.

Workplace dispute. Amazon doesn’t have to pay its warehouse workers for the time they spend waiting to clear security after their shifts, the Supreme Court decided. The ruling is a win for retailers who screen employees for theft. A group of contract workers sued Amazon, complaining the checks took up to 25 minutes past quitting time.

Domestic devastation. Six people died Monday when a private jet crashed into a house in Gaithersburg, Md., where a mother was home with her two young sons. The crash killed the three of them, plus three people onboard the plane. One of the plane’s passengers was the CEO of a clinical research company in Durham, N.C. The other two passengers were not immediately identified. Witnesses said they saw the plane flying too low and erratically as it came in for a landing at the Montgomery County Airpark.

WORLD Radio’s Jim Henry contributed to this report.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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