London: If the current swine flu pandemic behaves like the 1918 flu, anti-viral treatment may not be very effective in the case of those above 65, according to the latest research.
Researchers found that, in this situation, it would not significantly reduce mortality among them and could lead to an increase in resistance.
Stefano Merler, from the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Italy, worked with researchers from the Instituto Superiore di Sanit?o model the effect of anti-viral treatment on the spread of influenza.
"Although it is too early to confidently predict some important features of the ongoing influenza pandemic, the use of anti-virals is confirmed to be the most effective single intervention, in the absence of vaccines," Merler said.
"It requires, however, a very large stockpile of anti-viral drugs. Our work demonstrates that even in countries where the anti-viral stockpile is not sufficient to treat 25 percent of the population, the minimum level suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is possible to reduce morbidity and excess mortality by prioritizing the use of anti-virals by age".
Merler and his colleagues modelled the effects of flu outbreaks of varying virulence, and found that, depending on the behaviour of the virus, treatment of those aged over 65 years may not lead to any significant reduction in the cumulative number of cases.