Childhood vaccine uptake down 26% this year, report estimates
Nine million childhood vaccines are projected to be missed by the end of this year in the United States—a 26% decrease compared with 2019—according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) report. This decline would cause a gap between vaccination rate and that required for herd immunity of 4.8 percentage points for measles and 12.7 percentage points for pertussis (whooping cough). Polio would still maintain a 2.9-percentage-point buffer.
According to BCBS medical claims, both measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DtaP) childhood vaccination rates dropped 26% January through September year-over-year, with a predicted 2020-end rate of 88.2% and 79.3%, respectively. That compares with herd immunity requirements of 93.0% and 92.0%, respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Polio vaccination rates went down 16% from 2019 and have an 88.9% coverage prediction for 2020, but the BCBSA does not specify why the decline was less for this vaccine.
In a BCBSA survey of 2,000 parents, 40% cited COVID-19 disruptions as the reason they did not complete their child's vaccinations. Most postponements occurred during the pandemic's onset, March through May, and then again in August, when normally vaccinations would be part of the back-to-school routine.
"The U.S. is on the precipice of a severe immunization crisis among children," said Vincent Nelson, MD, BCBSA chief medical officer, in a press release. "The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly interrupted adherence to vaccination schedules, and the possibility that preventable diseases, like polio, could become a threat to public health once again is particularly concerning."
Nov 18 BCBSA press release
Nov 18 BCBSA infographic
CARB-X to fund development of monoclonal antibody for biofilm infections
CARB-X announced today that it is awarding up to $2.42 million to Clarametyx Biosciences of Columbus, Ohio, to develop a monoclonal antibody treatment for serious infections caused by bacterial biofilms.
The money from CARB-X (the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) will help fund preclinical development of CMTX-101, a monoclonal antibody designed to rapidly collapse bacterial biofilms by targeting a region of DNABII-binding proteins that help stabilize and maintain biofilm integrity.
Biofilms are communities of microbes that can grow on medical devices and human tissue and form a protective layer around bacteria. They are highly resistant to antibiotics and the immune system and are therefore difficult to treat.
"Bacterial biofilms are a serious global health concern due to their ability to resist both antibiotics and the host’s immune system," Erin Duffy, PhD, director of research and development at CARB-X, said in a press release. "We urgently need new therapeutics to address life-threatening bacterial infections. Clarametyx is developing an exciting new approach that could be effective against a broad range of serious drug-resistant pathogens and also numerous types of infections."
Clarametyx will be eligible for an additional $11.85 million if it meets project milestones.
Since launching in 2016, CARB-X has awarded more than $259 million to 73 projects focused on antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Nov 18 CARB-X press release
H5N8 avian flu sparks more outbreaks in European poultry, wild birds
Three European countries—Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands—reported more highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu outbreaks in wild birds and poultry, according to the latest notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Denmark reported an event at a poultry farm in Randers, located in the central part of the country. It began on Nov 15 and killed 1,500 of 25,000 susceptible birds, and the rest were slated for culling.
Germany reported 19 detections in wild birds, all in Lower Saxony state, which had reported one earlier detection. The events began from Nov 2 to Nov 13, and 16 of 19 infected waterfowl and seabirds died.
The Netherlands reported new H5N8 outbreaks in both poultry and wild birds. The poultry outbreak began on Nov 12 at a commercial farm in Gelderland province in the east central part of the country. The virus killed 3,840 of 22,040 birds, and the rest were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus. Also, the country reported two more events in wild birds, both in South Holland province in the southwest. Between the two events, five mute swans were found dead.
Nov 18 OIE report on H5N8 in Denmark
Nov 17 OIE report on H5N8 in Germany
Nov 17 OIE report on H5N8 in Dutch poultry
Nov 17 OIE report on H5N8 in Dutch wild birds