News Scan for Sep 27, 2019

Polio in 3 countries
Saudi MERS case
Smallpox countermeasure contract

Several more polio cases recorded in 3 countries

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in its latest weekly update today noted new cases of polio in Pakistan, Angola, and Myanmar—all countries battling ongoing outbreaks of wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus.

In Pakistan, four wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases were reported in three provinces, with symptom-onset dates ranging from Aug 2 through Aug 28. The new cases raise Pakistan's year-to-date total to 66, dwarfing last year's total of 12 WPV1 cases.

Angola reported four cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2). "The onsets of paralysis were between 31 July and 15 August 2019. There is a total of 19 cVDPV2 cases from six outbreaks reported in 2019," GPEI said.

Finally, Myanmar recorded two cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) from Papun district in Kayin province. The onsets of paralysis were Aug 8 and 29, and they raise Myanmar's 2019 cVDPV total to six.

In other polio news, Taliban leaders in Afghanistan announced they will now allow World Health Organization (WHO) workers to resume vaccinating children in that country, Asia News reported today. Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the two countries remaining in the world with endemic polio transmission.

In April, the Taliban banned WHO health workers, at the time saying the vaccination efforts were a way for Western powers to sterilize Afghani children.
Sep 27 GPEI update
Sep 27 Asia News


Third MERS case this month confirmed by Saudi health ministry

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported another MERS-CoV case, the second this week, this time in a man from Afif. It is the third case reported in September.

The new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves a 41-year-old man with unknown camel exposure. Health officials said his exposure to the virus is primary, meaning it's unlikely he contracted the virus from another MERS patient.

As of Sep 19, the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean regional office said that, since 2012 there have been 2,468 MERS cases, at least 850 of them fatal. The vast majority of cases have been in Saudi Araba.
Sep 27 Saudi MOH statement


BioFactura announces contract to develop smallpox countermeasure

BioFactura, a biotechnology company based in Frederick, Maryland, announced yesterday that it has received a contract worth up to $67.4 million from the federal government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a medical countermeasure for smallpox.

In a news release yesterday, the company said the goal is to boost the country's preparedness by having a second antiviral against smallpox with a different mechanism of action to guard against possible host resistance.

The base phase of the contract is about $9.5 million, with three option phases over 5 years. The base period will cover development of a manufacturing process for drug components, final product formulation, analytical method development, stability studies, and regulatory activities to engage with the Food and Drug Administration.

The candidate drug from BioFactura is a monoclonal antibody, said Darryl Sampey, the company's president and chief executive officer, in the release, "This advanced research and development contract award marks the culmination of decades of discovery and development work performed by our team, our partners at the National Institutes of Health, and our principal government collaborator, Dr. Jay Hooper at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases." BARDA is part of the office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Sep 26 BioFactura press release

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