The U.N. Foundation on Monday launched Shot@Life, “a new campaign to expand access to life-saving vaccines for children in developing countries” that “will educate, connect and empower Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save children’s lives around the world,” according to a U.N. Foundation…
“Polio has broken out in China for the first time since 1999 after being imported from Pakistan, and there is a high risk of the crippling virus spreading further during the annual Haj pilgrimage, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (9/20). Nine cases of wild poliovirus type 1 have been recorded in China’s western province of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan, WHO spokesperson Oliver Rosenbauer said, according to Daily News and Analysis, GlobalPost notes (9/21). A genetic link has been confirmed between the virus detected in China and a strain circulating in Pakistan, according to the Associated Press/USA Today (9/20). BBC News reports that “Chinese authorities are now investigating the cases, and a mass vaccination campaign has been launched in the region” (9/20).
Officials in Pakistan on Monday “announced targeted, three-day anti-polio campaigns in affected areas, which include Karachi and districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. According to the Global Eradication Initiative, led by the WHO, 84 cases of type 1 polio have been reported in Pakistan so far this year, nearly twice as many cases as the country had recorded by this time last year, according to the blog.
“Afghanistan is intensifying efforts to eradicate polio by the end of next year, but security remains a major challenge especially in the southern provinces where the virus is localized, says” Arshad Quddus, head of the WHO polio program in Afghanistan, IRIN reports. Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, according to the WHO, IRIN notes, adding that Afghan “[g]overnment data show that 85 percent of the population now live in polio-free areas, but the virus is still circulating in 13 districts, including the seven where  recent cases have been detected.” In addition to security issues, “low literacy rates, poor hygiene practices and low awareness of the benefits of vaccination” are hindering campaigns, according to IRIN (9/15).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Jose Esparza, deputy director of vaccines and HIV at the Gates Foundation, reports on AIDS Vaccine 2011, a conference being held this week in Bangkok, Thailand, that is expected to draw more than 800 scientists and policymakers from around the…
“After two years of analyzing the results of the largest AIDS vaccine clinical trial ever held — called RV144 — researchers say they have found two ways the immune system can respond, which could predict whether those inoculated will be protected or are more likely to become infected with HIV,” CNN’s health blog “The Chart” reports. The results were presented at the AIDS Vaccine 2011 conference being held this week in Bangkok, Thailand (Young, 9/13).
“An experimental malaria vaccine tested on children in Burkina Faso has shown ‘a high level of efficacy’ in protecting against the disease, a study published in” Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine said, according to Agence France-Presse. The research, which “was initially planned to study the safety and immune response of the vaccine, known by the name MSP3 … was led by scientists from the National Center for Research and Training on Malaria in Burkina Faso, the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the Paris-based Pasteur Institute,” the news agency writes.
In this New York Times opinion piece, W. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and a professor of neurology and pathology at Columbia University and a paid technical consultant on the film “Contagion,” which opened this weekend, writes about the risks of an infectious disease outbreak as portrayed in the film, stating, “Those risks are very real — and are increasing drastically.”
Candidate Malaria Vaccine Represents 'Potentially Encouraging Anti-Malaria Strategy,' Researchers Say
A team of researchers led by Stephen Hoffman of Sanaria Inc. have created a candidate malaria vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly of the malaria parasites, using live but weakened parasites that “represents a potentially encouraging anti-malaria strategy,” an NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases press release reports. The findings of the research, which “was conducted by scientists at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, working in concert with a large team of collaborators,” were published in Thursday’s online issue of Science, the press release states (9/8).
The U.N.’s Pan-American Health Organization, the United States and the international community “should be working with the Haitian Health Ministry to wage a more aggressive and effective effort” against the cholera epidemic that hit the country last year, and those efforts “should include not only clean water and sanitation systems but more antibiotics and cholera vaccinations,” a New York Times editorial says. “Ramping up manufacturing” of the cholera vaccine — of which there are less than 400,000 doses worldwide — “could be readily done and would have global benefits,” the editorial states.