NEWS SCAN: Billions for vaccines, H5N1 vaccine for Singapore, censure for vaccine-autism claim

Jan 29, 2010

Gates Foundation gives $10 billion for vaccines
Speaking at the World Economic Forum today, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that their foundation will create a $10 billion, 10-year program to push development of new or improved vaccines for AIDS, tuberculosis, rotavirus, and pneumonia. They said the goal will be to distribute such vaccines in the developing world, where they aim to increase vaccine uptake to 90% of children under 5. If they are successful, they said, the investment could save the lives of 7.6 million children over the 10 years of the program. And if a new malaria vaccine in which they have also invested, due to be deployed in 2014, is added into the calculation, the total number of lives saved could be 8.7 million.
Jan 29 story

Singapore buys 1 million avian flu vaccine doses
As H1N1 pandemic flu subsides globally, Singapore is returning its attention to preparing for a possible outbreak of H5N1 avian flu. The country's Health Ministry announced yesterday that it will purchase and stockpile 1 million doses of avian flu vaccine. The announcement came as Singapore's media challenged the government about poor acceptance of H1N1 vaccine: Of 1.3 million doses bought, 425,000 were ordered by medical sites.

UK medical authorities censure vaccine-autism link claim
The General Medical Council (GMC), the licensing authority for physicians in the United Kingdom, has ruled after 2 years' research that Dr. Andrew Wakefield acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in claiming a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism in a 1998 Lancet article. The council found that Wakefield did not disclose that he had received payments from attorneys representing families who believed vaccines had hurt their children as well as collected blood samples in an irregular manner, by paying children attending a birthday party. Wakefield's Lancet article and subsequent publicity caused a steep decline in MMR vaccine uptake and the re-establishment of endemic measles in the United Kingdom. The Lancet and 10 of the 13 authors have since disowned the research. The GMC will now decide whether to revoke Wakefield's license. In a statement yesterday, Wakefield called the decision "unfounded and unjust."
Jan 29 story

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