NEWS SCAN: H5N1 in Egypt, pandemic vaccine efforts, polio lab inventory

Aug 12, 2010

Egypt reports H5N1 infection
Egypt's health ministry announced an H5N1 avian influenza infection in a 2-year-old girl from Cairo, according to a statement today from the World Health Organization (WHO). She got sick on Aug 2 and was hospitalized the same day and treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu). The girl is still in the hospital. An investigation into the source of her illness revealed that she had been exposed to sick and dead poultry. Her illness raises Egypt's number of H5N1 cases to 111, of which 35 have been fatal. This latest confirmation pushes the world's number of H5N1 cases to 504, including 299 deaths.
Aug 12 WHO statement

BARDA puts $6.4 million toward expanding vaccine capacity
The US Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA), an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services that manages the development of countermeasures for bioterror attacks and pandemics, announced yesterday that it has awarded the WHO a $6.4 million grant to continue developing flu vaccine manufacturing capacity in 10 developing and emerging-economy nations. Details about the grant appeared in yesterday's Federal Register. The effort to expand vaccine production capacity in developing nations, first launched in 2006, is designed to boost global and domestic preparedness for a flu pandemic. The latest BARDA award will help support the program through Sep 2013. In its Federal Register notice, BARDA said the WHO is the only global organization with the experience and scientific base to spearhead the expansion of global vaccine production capacity.

Joint venture to develop universal H5 pandemic vaccine announced
Emergent BioSolutions, a pharmaceutical company based in Rockville, Md., yesterday unveiled that it has entered a joint venture with a Singapore company to develop and produce a universal pandemic flu vaccine targeted to a broad range of H5 viruses. The vaccine will be based on multiple antigens held by Temasek Life Sciences Ventures and Emergent's MVAtor vaccine delivery system. In a press release yesterday Emergent said the cell culture vaccine will incorporate three H5 antigens, including the Vietnam strain that most other H5N1 vaccines are based on. It said the new vaccine will allow long-term stability for bulk stockpiling. The company said the two companies will also work together to develop a monoclonal antibody treatment for H5 influenza infections. For the vaccine, the goal is to produce enough vaccine in 2011 for clinical trials slated to begin in 2012.
Aug 11 Emergent BioSolutions press release

WHO Americas region completes lab inventory of polio materials
In regions that have eradicated wild poliovirus (WPV), completing an inventory of remaining lab virus materials for destruction of WPV stocks is a final step in formal eradication certification. The WHO Americas region recently completed phase 1 of the inventory and reported the findings today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Of more than 67,000 biomedical facilities in the region, about 23% were classified as high or medium risk and were included in the survey. According to the report, about 85% of the remaining low-risk facilities were surveyed. Though some labs voluntarily destroyed their WPV materials, 215 in nine countries reported they still had them as of March. The last case of WPV infection was confirmed in the Americas in 1991, and the area was certified as polio-free in 1994. However, 4 years later global health officials announced that progress toward WPV lab containment was a precondition for regional certification. By the time phase 1 inventory began in 2001, many labs in the Americas had already shifted to measles eradication, the MMWR report said. Member states were able to use the experiences of two other regions that had completed the surveys, European and Western Pacific. Three more regions still need to complete phase 1 activities. The report said phase 2 activities, which involve destruction of WPV materials and long-term containment plans, are scheduled to begin as soon as one of four remaining WPV endemic countries reports the interruption of transmission.
Aug 13 MMWR report

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