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Tamiflu Did Save Lives During Swine Flu Pandemic

Update Date: Mar 19, 2014 09:00 AM EDT

The antiviral drug Tamiflu helped in reducing the risk of death by around 25 percent among adults who were hospitalized during 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, a new report has claimed. 

The antiviral treatment further halved the risk of death when used within 48 hours of developing flu symptoms, the report added. 

Researchers further noted in the report that the risk of death rose by about 20 percent for every 24 hours if the treatment was delayed after 48 hours since the start of symptoms. 

"As expected, early treatment seems to be optimal, and treatment shouldn't be delayed by even one day to wait for diagnostic test results," Alicia Fry, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in an accompanying journal editorial, according to "However, if the patient presents for care more than two days after illness onset, treatment might still have some benefit, especially if they are severely ill."

Researchers also found that the treatment Tamiflu for sure reduced the risk of deaths in many groups of adults, it did have no effect in reducing the death risk among children.

"But until now they had no adequate data to assist them in deciding if lives were saved in 2009 and 2010 or not, and whether they should replenish or not," said Study lead author Professor Jonathan Nguyen-Van-Tam, of the University of Nottingham, in England, in the press release. 

"The situation is made more complex by the fact that when an influenza pandemic occurs, even with the best will in the world, vaccine arrives six months too late and its public-health benefit is therefore moderate at best," he added. "Thus we are left with antivirals like Tamiflu and public-health measures like handwashing and social distancing as the only defenses we have for the first six months of a pandemic."

The report has been published in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

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