The GAVI Alliance “has agreed to fund the roll-out of vaccines against cervical cancer in developing countries, offering protection against a disease that kills one woman every two minutes,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 11/17). The group is continuing negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of the vaccine, NPR’s health blog “Shots” notes. “By 2015, GAVI expects that two million girls in nine countries will have received the HPV vaccine,” but the shot will not be given to boys unless the WHO recommends they also receive the immunization, according to the blog (Husted, 11/17).
Inter Press Service interviews Maria Guadalupe Guzman, head of the Pedro Kouri Institute (IPK) Department of Virology and director of the PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for the Study of Dengue and its Vector, who is leading of a team of Cuban researchers working to develop a vaccine against dengue. In the interview, Guzman discusses Cuba’s contributions to the field of dengue research, the influence of climate change on the transmission of dengue, and differences in the four strains of the virus (Grogg, 11/15).
Some Public Health Experts Raise Concerns Over Plans To Immunize Haitians Against Cholera, AP Reports
The Associated Press/Washington Times reports on a pilot project plan by Partners In Health (PIH) and GHESKIO to vaccinate Haitians against cholera, which “has set off a debate among some public health experts who question the wisdom of [the] program that will inoculate only one percent of the population and could deplete the world’s stock of available cholera vaccine, potentially putting people at risk in other vulnerable places.” The program will cost an estimated $870,000, money that some experts say would be better spent cleaning up contaminated waterways, according to the AP.
“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.