News Scan for May 22, 2019

MERS in Saudi Arabia
Malaria-free certifications
Chikungunya vaccine response

Saudi Arabia records new MERS case

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported one more MERS-CoV case, which involves a patient from Al Kharj. This is the second case to originate in that city in the past week.

A 44-year-old woman who didn't have contact with camels and whose exposure to MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) is listed as secondary, meaning she was likely exposed by another known patient, is the latest case noted in the MOH's epidemiologic week 21 report.

Al Kharj is in Riyadh province, located in the central part of the country. The Saudi Arabian MOH has confirmed 141 MERS cases so far this year.
May 22 MOH


WHO certifies Algeria and Argentina as malaria-free

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that Algeria and Argentina have achieved certification of malaria-free status, meaning both have interrupted local transmission for at least 3 consecutive years.

In an announcement, the WHO said Algeria—where the disease was first discovered in humans in 1880—is only the second country in its African region to reach malaria-free status. The first was Mauritius, which was certified in 1973. And Argentina is the second country in the Americas region to be certified in 45 years, following Paraguay in 2018. Algeria and Argentina reported their last indigenous malaria cases in 2013 and 2010, respectively.

The WHO grants malaria-free certification when a country has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the chain indigenous transmission has been interrupted for at least the previous 3 consecutive years. Countries must also have surveillance systems that can rapidly detect and respond to any malaria cases and have effective programs to prevent malaria re-establishment.

Officials from Algeria and Argentina received their certificates today from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly underway in Geneva this week. In the WHO statement, Tedros said the two countries eliminated malaria due to the unwavering commitment and perseverance of their people and leaders. "Their success serves as a model for other countries working to end this disease once and for all."
May 22 WHO statement


Chikungunya vaccine candidate proves safe, immunogenic in phase 1 trial

A chikungunya vaccine, VLA1553, developed by Valneva, was safe and immunogenic up to 7 months, according to new results from a multi-dose phase 1 clinical trial of the vaccine.

The study, conducted on 120 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 45, tested the immunogenicity of three different doses of the vaccine; all participants reached seroconversion 14 days after the  vaccine injection, with results sustained at 6 months, according to a Valneva news release.

The trial also showed that vaccinees were protected from vaccine-induced viremia when re-vaccination occurred at month 6 for some participants. The results suggest VLA1553 is a strong final product candidate, the company said.

"The data indicate that vaccinated subjects are protected from chikungunya viremia.This marks a very important milestone getting us a step closer to a highly competitively differentiated vaccine addressing a serious threat to public health," said Wolfgang Bender, MD, PhD, the chief medical officer of Valneva.
May 22 Valneva press release

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