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Merck, Wellcome Trust Back Project To Develop Improved Rotavirus Vaccine For Developing Countries

“A joint venture between U.S. drugmaker Merck and Britain’s Wellcome Trust charity said on Monday it is working on an oral rotavirus vaccine designed to be cheaper and easier to use than current shots,” Reuters reports. “Hilleman Laboratories, an India-based joint venture set up on a not-for-profit basis in 2009, said the vaccine will aim to protect against diarrhea-causing rotavirus infections and will be based on thin strips or granules that dissolve in the mouth and can be easily transported, stored and administered.”

Washington Post Reports On Administrator Shah’s Goals For USAID

The Washington Post examines plans for reforming USAID, noting some of Administrator Rajiv Shah’s comments during a recent speech at the Center for Global Development. “‘This agency is no longer satisfied with writing big checks to big contractors and calling it development.’ Those challenging words, spoken last week by [Shah], were just one part of his speech forging a new direction for an agency that has been in the backwater of U.S. foreign and national security policies for years. With little more than a year on the job, the 37-year-old medical doctor and research scientist, who once handled the $1.5 billion vaccine fund for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, criticized development programs designed to be ‘extended in perpetuity while goals remain just out of reach,'” the newspaper writes.

AP Reports On Global Fund Grant Money Lost To Corruption, Global Fund Responds

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a “$21.7 billion health fund championed by the rich and famous has come under harsh scrutiny amid revelations it’s bleeding money to corruption,” the Associated Press reports. The piece examines the organization’s response to an article published by the AP on Sunday that highlighted the findings of an internal investigation led by “Robert Appleton, a veteran former U.S. federal prosecutor whom [the fund’s inspector general John] Parsons hired last fall to root out corruption,” the AP writes (Heilprin, 1/24).

USAID Administrator Responds To Conservative Republicans’ Call For Reducing Agency’s Budget

In an interview with Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said a Republican Study Committee (RSC) proposal to trim the U.S. foreign aid budget, in addition to other non-defense programs, could weaken U.S. national security. “‘That first and foremost puts our national security in real jeopardy because we are working hand and glove with our military to keep us safe,’ said Shah, referring to USAID missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Central America, and responding directly to congressional calls for cuts in foreign aid and development,” the blog reports.

Global Poverty Summit Addresses MDGs, Global Trade Policy

At the Global Poverty Summit January 16-19 in Johannesburg, South Africa, “academics, policy-makers, civil society activists and development workers … agreed that the [U.N. Millennium Development Goals] MDGs have made a difference, but have fallen far short of the ambitious targets on poverty, education, health, gender equality and global partnership that 189 countries committed to achieving by 2015,” IRIN reports.