“The Chinese drug industry is on the verge of getting the green light to manufacture the Japanese encephalitis vaccine for the developing world, an event that will signal the emergence of a major new player in global vaccines,” BMJ reports. Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI Alliance, “said that by the beginning of next year Chinese drug firms will be ready for World Health Organization representatives to carry out pre-qualification inspections of production of the vaccine,” the journal writes, adding, “Once those inspections are carried out, United Nations agencies and other non-governmental organizations will be able to purchase the vaccine for countries that do not have their own regulatory systems.”
In a recent edition of VOA News’ “Science In The News,” correspondents Bob Doughty and Shirley Griffith report on “the growing use of generic drugs in fighting HIV” and discuss “the search for an effective vaccine against HIV.” They highlight a study of the effectiveness of PEPFAR conducted by researchers from Brown University in Rhode Island, noting lead researcher Kartik Venkatesh “says the high cost of patented antiretroviral drugs had an immediate influence on the program after it began.” They continue, “American officials considered whether to provide patented drugs to HIV-infected patients, both in the United States and overseas,” adding, “Using generic drugs helped cut the cost of treating a person [in a developing country] from about $1,100 a year to about $300 a year in 2005.”
Hereditary Blood Disorder Found In South-East Asia, South-West Pacific Could Offer Clues For Malaria Vaccine
“A team of international scientists has found that a type of hereditary disorder in some communities in South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific protects its sufferers from malaria, a finding that could drive future vaccine design,” SciDev.Net reports. “Southeast Asian Ovalocytosis (SAO), an inherited disorder in which red blood cells are oval, instead of round, could be a unique human adaptation to resist malaria, according to a paper published in PLoS Medicine this month,” the news service writes.
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog reports that the Dengue Vaccine Initiative has launched a redesigned website, including a new blog that “will include regular posts about the disease, dengue in the news, the work of DVI and the development of a dengue vaccine” (9/17).
UNICEF has released its 2012 partnership profiles, “short case studies which highlight specific partnership initiatives at global, regional and country levels” and “illustrate how partnerships have contributed to results, either the creation of innovation, policy advocacy, evidence generation, or provision of essential services,” according to UNICEF’s Partnerships webpage. Some of the organizations highlighted include the GAVI Alliance (.pdf), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (.pdf), and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (.pdf) (9/17).
With nearly 6,000 reported cholera cases, including more than 100 deaths, Guinea is facing the worst cholera outbreak since 2007, and “some residents of the capital Conakry are clamoring to be vaccinated,” IRIN reports. “The cholera vaccine has shown promising results in the handful of communities where it has been used: none of those vaccinated have been infected,” the news service writes, noting, “For now cholera vaccination is not generally done on a large scale.” According to IRIN, “WHO and partner agencies are planning a cholera vaccine stockpile for epidemic control and looking at the possibility of introducing the two-dose oral vaccine into national immunization programs in endemic areas,” but the agency also “says such stockpiles should not detract from other prevention efforts: detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cases with oral rehydration and antibiotics; establishment of a safe water supply; implementation of adequate waste disposal, sanitation, and hygiene; and communication and social mobilization.”
The first-ever results from a dengue virus vaccine clinical trial aimed at showing effectiveness “provide signals rather than definitive answers, and a mixture of both promise and unresolved challenges,” Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center, and Ciro de Quadros, executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, write in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog. “To date, these represent the most promising indications that a safe, effective vaccine to prevent dengue is technically feasible,” they continue, adding, “At the same time, the results on protection were inconclusive, somewhat inconsistent with the measured immune responses and uneven across the four strains included in the vaccine.”
The annual number of child deaths worldwide has fallen more than 40 percent since 1990, “the result of myriad improvements in nutrition, access to vaccines and antibiotics, cleaner deliveries, better care of infants immediately after birth, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets,” according to “the findings of a report released Wednesday by three United Nations agencies and the World Bank,” the Washington Post reports (Brown, 9/12). “In 1990, there were 12 million deaths of young children, but the latest figures … show that deaths had fallen by nearly half, to 6.9 million, by 2011,” the Guardian writes (Boseley, 9/12). “[T]he number of deaths is down by at least 50 percent in eastern, western and southeastern Asia, as well as in northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean,” the report says, VOA News notes (Schlein, 9/12). However, “[i]n some, mainly sub-Saharan countries, the total number of deaths of children younger than five increased,” BBC News writes, adding, “The Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Somalia, Mali, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso saw annual deaths of children under five rise by 10,000 or more in 2011 as compared with 1990” (Doyle, 9/13).
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said Nigeria was not on track in the effort to eradicate wild polio virus before the end of December this year,” Leadership/AllAfrica.com reports. Speaking at the 24th Expert Review Committee (ERC) Meeting on Polio Eradication in Abuja, Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, said Nigeria had the tools and capacity to turn back the increasing number of polio cases that pose a “real and growing danger to international public health,” the news service notes. Aylward “recommended eight major steps for polio eradication for the country, including the implementation of the new house-based micro planning and monitoring method,” refresher training for all personnel to emphasize the emergency status declared by the WHO, and the identification and immunization of missed children and those in insecure areas, among others, according to the news service. ERC Chair Tomori Oyewale “called on Nigerians to change their attitude to polio eradication to ensure the success of the fight against the virus,” the news service writes (9/11).
“A paper published in Nature [on Monday] sheds light on how a vaccine can turn the immune system against [HIV] and so offer protection from infection,” Nature News reports, noting “[t]he results are also being presented at the AIDS Vaccine 2012 conference in Boston, Massachusetts, this week” (Callaway, 9/10). Previous results from a trial called RV144 showed that two vaccines, Sanofi’s Alvac and VaxGen’s Aidsvax, reduced the risk of HIV infection by 31 percent over three years when used together, compared with people who received a placebo, according to Bloomberg (Bennett, 9/10). Last year, researchers showed “that those who responded to the vaccine and fended off HIV tended to produce antibodies against a specific part of the virus’s protein shell called the V1/V2 loop,” Nature News writes, adding, “The study published [Monday] goes a stage further, showing that the people who were vaccinated yet still contracted HIV had been infected by viruses that had mutations in the V2 portion.”