“A global push to bring a vaccine against the bacterial cause of pneumonia to communities that need it most is ramping up quickly, expanding to nearly 60 countries in the next five years,” PBS NewsHour’s “The Rundown” reports. “At least three million child deaths could be prevented in the next decade through the global vaccine rollout, according to a new analysis published Thursday in the journal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene by health experts from Children’s Hospital Boston and Johns Hopkins University, among others,” the blog states, adding, “More new research released this week by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health called the rate of the rollout and its quick expansion ‘unprecedented.'”
British Researchers Discover Receptor Necessary For Malaria Parasite To Invade Red Blood Cells, Offering New Vaccine Hope
Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the U.K. have “made a critical discovery about the way the most deadly species of malaria parasite invades human red blood cells,” Reuters reports. They “pinpointed a single receptor for a protein that is critical for the parasite to gain entry into red blood cells before multiplying and spreading,” according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday (Kelland, 11/9). “The researchers hope the finding will help them design a new malaria vaccine,” which “has been ‘a difficult nut to crack,’ Gavin Wright of the [Sanger Institute] said at a press briefing about the study in London on Monday,” ScienceNOW notes (Reardon, 11/9).
Large-Scale Trials Show HPV Vaccine Effective Against Multiple Strains, Could Reduce Need For Screening
“Using GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix vaccine to protect girls against the [human papillomavirus (HPV)] that causes cervical cancer is so effective that health authorities could reduce the need for later cervical screening,” according to two studies published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Oncology, Reuters reports. In a large efficacy trial involving 20,000 healthy women from 14 countries on four continents, researchers from the U.S. and Finland found the vaccine “‘offers excellent protection’ against two key strains of [HPV], particularly when given to young adolescent girls before they become sexually active” and “found the vaccine partially protects against several other cancer-causing HPV types that it is not specifically designed to target, giving protection against a group of strains that together cause about 85 percent of cervical cancer worldwide,” the news service writes.
The GAVI Alliance has “announced a major new initiative aimed at engaging private sector leaders: the GAVI Matching Fund,” through which “the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide a 100 percent match of contributions to GAVI from corporations and foundations as well as their customers, members and employees,” Bill Roedy, former CEO of MTV Networks and a GAVI Alliance envoy, writes in a post on the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Together, DFID and the Gates Foundation have pledged $130 million to support this effort, which means there’s the potential to generate $260 million for global childhood immunization efforts,” he notes.
The November 21 cover story of Forbes magazine profiles Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has focused its global health efforts on vaccine development and distribution, according to the article (11/21). Forbes also features an audio interview with article author Matt Herper, conducted by Managing Editor Tom Post, about Herper’s interview of Gates (11/4).
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Sania Nishtar, founder of Heartfile and the recently launched Sania Nishtar Health Fund, writes that “[a]fter 23 years of commencing the World Health Organisation-led Global Polio Eradication initiative, billions of dollars in investment, mobilization of 20 million health workers and a population wide intervention in 125 countries, vaccinating more than two billion children, there are only four countries in the world which continue to harbor the disease,” and Pakistan is “a living threat to the global goal of eradicating a disease for the second time from the face of this planet.”
The VOA News audio program “Explorations” on Tuesday discussed international humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa. The program features interviews with Kurt Tjossem, the International Rescue Committee’s regional director for the Horn of Africa and East Africa; Shannon Scribner, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy manager; and Nancy Lindborg, USAID’s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University, notes some of the parallels between the development of RTS,S, the experimental malaria vaccine currently being tested in Africa, and the polio vaccine, but he says “there are also some particularly disappointing ways in which the polio and malaria efforts could differ.”
Nature News reports on last week’s announcement of preliminary results from a large clinical trial testing the efficacy of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) RTS,S malaria vaccine, writing that while media coverage of the announcement touted it as a “big breakthrough in the long campaign to create a malaria vaccine,” “several leading vaccine researchers, who are critical of the unusual decision to publish partial trial data, argue that the results raise questions about whether the RTS,S/AS01 candidate vaccine can actually win approval.” According to Nature, low rates of protection suggested by the results and “the frequency of serious adverse events, such as convulsions and meningitis,” have added to speculation about the vaccine.
“Thousands of vaccination teams have traversed the vast Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on foot, by motorbike, boat and car, in a campaign to immunize at least 14 million children against polio, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said,” IRIN reports. The campaign, which was run over three days beginning October 20 by the government with support from UNICEF, also provided vitamin A supplements and deworming, IRIN notes.