News Scan for Nov 05, 2019

More Ebola in the DRC
High-dose 4-strain flu vaccine
Over-the-counter flu test
Lesotho measles outbreak

DRC confirms 7 more Ebola cases, lifting total to 3,282

After going 2 days with no new cases, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today reported 7 new lab-confirmed cases and 1 additional probable infection, raising the overall outbreak total to 3,282, which includes 118 probable cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) online Ebola dashboard.

Health officials are still investigating 447 suspected Ebola cases.

No new deaths were reported, keeping the fatality count at 2,185.

The DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) said in its daily update yesterday that a 37-year-old woman who is a vaccinated high-risk contact was intercepted at a checkpoint in Kiwandja while traveling from Oicha to Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. It added that she was handed over to the surveillance team for follow-up.
WHO online Ebola dashboard
Nov 4 CMRE update


FDA approves 4-strain version of Sanofi's high-dose flu vaccine for seniors

Sanofi yesterday announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a supplemental biologics license application for its Fluzone high-dose quadrivalent (four-strain) flu vaccine for use in those age 65 and older.

In 2009, the FDA approved the trivalent version of Sanofi's high-dose flu vaccine for seniors. The FDA based its approval on data from a phase 3 immunogenicity and safety study, which suggested the quadrivalent vaccine was noninferior to two trivalent Fluzone versions, each containing a different influenza B strain. In a secondary endpoint, each influenza B strain in the quadrivalent vaccine induced a better immune response compared to the trivalent formulation that didn't contain the corresponding B strain.

David Loew, the company's executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a press release, "We are excited to build upon the success of trivalent Fluzone High-Dose with this FDA approval to expand protection for an additional B strain. We have submitted filings with additional regulatory bodies outside the U.S. and anticipate approval in the European Union next spring."

The FDA's recent approval means that all of Sanofi's flu vaccines have transitioned to quadrivalent versions. The company said its high-dose quadrivalent will be available during the 2020-2021 flu season and that it will continue to deliver and offer the trivalent formulation for the rest of the current season.
Nov 4 Sanofi press release


BARDA funds over-the-counter flu test

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at the US Department of Health and Human Services is giving Lucira Health up to $11.5 million in additional funding to further develop the company's over-the-counter influenza test and develop a telemedicine workflow for the product.

The funding will execute the second phase of Lucira's contract with BARDA.

"This second tranche of funding will ensure that we complete our clinical studies and put our product in the hands of consumers," said President and CEO of Lucira, Erik Engelson in a press release. "The trust and support of BARDA motivates our team to push further and to enable influenza management in the home."

The test consists of a nasal swab that provides a text read-out of results within 20 minutes on a battery-powered device. The telemedicine component of the funding will go towards establishing how consumers will manage follow-up care after the use of the test at home.
Nov 5 Lucira press release


Lesotho reports measles outbreak in remote district

Lesotho is experiencing its first measles outbreak in almost 10 years, which is occurring in a previously unaffected area, the WHO African regional office said today in its weekly outbreaks and health emergencies report.

The country, which only reported one measles case in 2018, has targeted measles as one of the diseases for elimination, and surveillance guidelines define an outbreak as three or more cases confirmed from the same health facility. On Oct 26, Lesotho's health ministry notified the WHO of a measles outbreak in remote Oacha Nek district, based on 4 positive blood tests collected from 50 suspected case-patients who visited the same health facility with symptoms that included fever and body rash. Most of the patients are children ages 5 to 12 years old. One of the samples was positive for rubella.

Vaccine coverage for measles vaccine has been low in the affected district for the past 4 years, and coverage was 65% for 2019. However, the WHO said Lesotho's national coverage has remained high.

A mass vaccination campaign is being planned for the affected area, targeting children ages 9 months to 15 years.
Nov 5 WHO African regional office weekly report

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