Medical researchers in Britain have warned that children should not be routinely given flu drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza as the side-effects may outweigh the benefits. Governments around the world have built up large stocks of these drugs to fight the H1N1 strain of influenza.
In Britain, hundreds of doses of Tamiflu have been prescribed to flu sufferers, half of them children. But one medical practitioner says the government is right to be prepared. Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We can’t play with the lives of children. This is a study based on seasonal flu and of course this pandemic is hitting children the hardest. Therefore the government is absolutely right to take a ‘safety first’ approach.” Swine flu cases in Britain doubled to 100,000 in one week of July. Britain is preparing itself for a significant rise in cases as winter approaches. The government has launched a dedicated website and a helpline which is capable of handling one million calls a week.