“Up to 3.2 million South Sudanese children have received vaccinations against polio in a United Nations-backed campaign to ensure the new country remains free of the deadly disease, more than two years after the last case was reported,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The three-phase campaign, which is being coordinated by South Sudan’s health ministry and backed by UNICEF and the WHO, will continue with additional immunizations next month, according to the news service. “Polio … re-emerged in South Sudan in April 2008, but after an intensive vaccination campaign, no new cases have been reported since June 2009,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/14).
A new policy brief from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) “summarizes data on HIV vaccine R&D funding trends originally published by the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group in 2011,” according to the IAVI website. “The crucial addition of a preventive HIV vaccine to [a comprehensive biomedical HIV prevention]…
Push For Experimental Smallpox Drug Contract By Obama Administration Raises Questions, L.A. Times Reports
“Over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433 million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald Perelman, one of the world’s richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor,” including “replac[ed] the government’s lead negotiator for the deal” and “blocked other firms from competing,” the newspaper adds.
“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.