NEWS SCAN: Anthrax contract, ID vs IM flu vaccines, cholera in Haiti, measles in Somalia

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Oct 3, 2011

Emergent awarded up to $1.25 billion to ensure anthrax vaccine supply
BioThrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed), the only vaccine licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration for preventing anthrax, should be available in plentiful supply for at least 5 years. In a news release today, Emergent BioSolutions, Inc, the manufacturer of BioThrax, announced that it has been awarded up to $1.25 billion to supply 44.75 million doses to the US government over the next 5 years. Initial deliveries under the award are to begin this year and to comprise 8.5 million doses. According to the release, Emergent, of Rockville, Md., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "worked diligently to establish business terms that incorporate substantial price concessions."
Oct 3 press release

Systematic review finds intradermal flu vaccine immunogenicity similar to shots
Influenza vaccination via the intradermal (ID) route appears to be as immunogenic as the intramuscular (IM) route, according to a meta-analysis in Vaccine. Two British Columbia researchers analyzed data from13 randomized, controlled, open-label trials involving ID vaccines, which deliver the antigen just under the skin and IM vaccine, the traditional flu shots. Seven trials involved 18- to 60-year-olds, 4 involved patients older than 60, and 2 involved both groups. They found vaccine immunogenicity (seroprotection > 70%, seroconversion > 40%, geometric mean titer ratio >2.5) to be comparable between the ID and IM vaccines in seven of eight trials in the younger age-group and four of six trials in the older group. They also found similar side-effect profiles, with the exception of more local events with ID vaccines. In addition, some of the over-60 studies showed slightly higher ID immunogenicity, but the researchers caution that the trials did not assess vaccine effectiveness, which measures reductions in clinical illness and death. "This is a significant limitation given that antibody response is not necessarily the best predictor of clinical efficacy in the older adults," they write, adding that studies have shown that serum antibody titers do not differentiate adults who develop flu from those who don't.
Oct 1 Vaccine study

Cholera deaths in Haiti now top 6,400 as outbreak ebbs
Haiti has now confirmed 6,435 cholera-related deaths among 455,727 cases and 242,205 hospitalizations, Haitian health officials said in their most recent report, according to Xinhua, China's state-run news agency. The country's health ministry said the epidemic, however, is waning. Artibonite province continues to be the hardest hit, with 1,196 deaths, while the capital, Port-au-Prince, has confirmed 221 deaths since the outbreak began in October 2010. Neighboring Dominican Republic has reported 135 cholera deaths.
Sep 30 Xinhua story

Aid group reports 2,000 measles cases in Somali refugee camps
Since May officials have reported more than 2,000 measles cases among refugees in Somalia, the medical aid group Medicins San Frontieres (MSF) announced. MSF, or Doctors Without Borders, said that famine has compounded the problem, according to a Reuters AlertNet report. "Malnourished children under five are the most susceptible," said MSF nutritionist Dr Susan Shepherd in an MSF news release. "They get caught in a vicious circle where measles and malnutrition wear down their weakened body's defences, which can push them over the edge with complications like pneumonia and diarrhoea." The group said that 4 million people need food aid in Somalia, where famine has been declared in six of eight regions and is expected to be declared in all regions yet this year. From May through September 2,132 measles cases have been reported in MSF's eight feeding centers in Somalia, or about 70% of this year's caseload, according to MSF. The group has vaccinated 50,000 Somali children against measles since July.
Sep 30 Reuters AlertNet report
Sep 30 MSF news release

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