UK TV host Andrew Castle tells UK Health Secretary ‘my daughter almost died from Tamiflu’
(TIMES ONLINE) “I can tell you that my child – who was not diagnosed at all – she had asthma, she took Tamiflu and almost died,” he said.
Georgina, 16, was given Tamiflu when five pupils at Alleyn’s School in south London were diagnosed with the illness in May.
Castle, also a BBC tennis commentator, said he feared for his daughter’s life as medical professionals backed away from the potentially contagious child.
He said: “Nobody checked that she had swine flu beforehand. The Health Protection Agency just handed it out at Alleyn’s School in south London and a lot of kids suffered in the school very heavily.
“We saw a respiratory collapse through it and it almost cost my older child her life.
“The doctor’s surgery wouldn’t take her. The doctor said ’No, we can’t take her to A&E. So she’s just on the floor having this nightmare of a situation. A lot of people are in this situation. They don’t know what to do.”
Mr Burnham was forced to break off from defending Tamiflu to offer his sympathy. “It must have been a very worrying situation for you,” he said.
“But that was in a very different phase of the illness when we were seeing the scenes from Mexico and we were in what we call the containment phase, where we were trying to isolate every case and then give Tamiflu to those around those cases.
“We’ve got to keep things in proportion and people shouldn’t worry unnecessarily.”
He repeated that parents should not be worried if their child was taking Tamiflu for swine flu. Mr Burnham said the Oxford University research published in the British Medical Journal dealt with seasonal flu, not swine flu, and added: “That’s a very important distinction.”
He said: “Swine flu is a new virus, it’s early days and we’re adopting very much a safety-first approach to tackling the illness.
Given that swine flu had a disproportionate effect on children, he maintained that Tamiflu was “our only line of defence”.
Some 300,000 people in England, including children and adults, have received courses of Tamiflu through the Government’s National Pandemic Flu Service for England.
The study published yesterday warned that Tamiflu can cause vomiting in some children, which can lead to dehydration and the need for hospital treatment.
The researchers said children should not be given the drug if they have a mild form of the illness, although they urged parents and GPs to remain vigilant for signs of complications.
Parents of children with a compromised immune system or a condition like cystic fibrosis should discuss the harms and benefits with their GP, they said. But overall, the researchers said, children who were otherwise healthy could suffer more harm than benefit from taking Tamiflu or another anti-viral, Relenza.
The researchers also found that using anti-virals preventatively had little effect – reducing transmission of flu by 8 per cent.
The study was carried out in April and May – before the Government decided to stop using Tamiflu preventatively. Only those with suspected or confirmed swine flu are now getting the drug and are being urged to get access to Tamiflu through the Pandemic Flu Service, which is accessed online or via a telephone helpline.