– Advertisement – The Trump campaign ‘Four Seasons’ saga explained. Video, 00:03:30The Trump campaign ‘Four Seasons’ saga explained- Advertisement –
– Advertisement – Pennsylvania’s secretary of state will ask a federal judge to dismiss a new lawsuit by the Trump campaign, which seeks to bar the state from certifying the results of its election between President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.“The Secretary disputes that Plaintiffs have stated a claim,” lawyers for Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar wrote in a court filing Tuesday, which also asked the judge to move the case to Harrisburg, the state’s capital.Boockvar, a Democrat, “intends to promptly move to dismiss and request expedited consideration of that motion,” the lawyers wrote.- Advertisement – The Trump campaign’s 86-page document accused Pennsylvania of, among other things, ignoring “legislative mandates” by evaluating mail-in ballots “on an entirely parallel track to those ballots cast in person.”This “two-track” system violates the Constitution, the campaign argued.“Pennsylvania has created an illegal two-tiered voting system for the 2020 General Election, devaluing in-person votes,” the complaint alleged.“Democrat-majority counties provided political parties and candidates, including the Trump Campaign, no meaningful access or actual opportunity to review and assess mail-in ballots during the pre-canvassing meetings,” the complaint said.It also alleged that counties favoring Democrats were unfairly advantaged in the contest by reviewing ballots earlier and allowing voters more time to “cure” problems with their votes.Judge Matthew Brann scheduled a telephone status conference for 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday. A clerk for the court told CNBC that media would not be allowed to listen in on the call. – Advertisement – The signal from the Keystone State official came less than a day after the Trump campaign filed its complaint in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, requesting “an emergency order prohibiting Defendants from certifying the results of the General Election.”The suit was filed three days after news outlets, including NBC News, projected that Biden would defeat Trump in Pennsylvania. That projection put Biden over the threshold of 270 electoral votes required to win the election.Trump, however, has not conceded the race. Rather, he has claimed he won, “by a lot,” and has launched a barrage of claims, without providing evidence, about voter fraud and illegality in key states. His campaign has taken legal action in multiple states; some of those lawsuits have already been tossed by judges.- Advertisement – Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar speaks at a press conference regarding election vote counting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 5, 2020.Mark Kauzlarich | Reuters
Gareth O’Brien will remain at Castleford Tigers until the end of 2023 “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to continue my stay at the Tigers and I’m really looking forward to the next three years,” O’Brien said.“Since joining it’s been great, I settled in really quickly, the boys have been great and the coaches have been fantastic. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and I think we’re a bit glad to see the back of it and we’re all looking forward to 2021.“I can slot into both half-back and full-back and that gives us some good options for next year. I’ll be putting everyone on their toes, it’s healthy and helps the competition that a squad needs. I’m looking forward to it.” – Advertisement – – Advertisement – Daryl Powell says O’Brien is a ‘very dangerous’ player Gareth O’Brien joined Castleford on loan from Toronto in August, and was planning to return to Canada at end of 2020 season; however, after Super League clubs voted against allowing Wolfpack back into the competition in 2021, the 29-year-old has committed his future to the Tigers Last Updated: 15/11/20 3:19pm
Want to get The Morning by email? Here’s the sign-up.Good morning. The U.S. and Europe are responding to the latest virus waves differently, and one approach is working better than the other. Make pan-seared gyoza — Japanese dumplings filled with ground pork, cabbage, chives, ginger and garlic.What to Listen to15 new tracks by Foo Fighters, Shania Twain, Billie Eilish and more.Fine ArtA new building at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston showcases works by Latin American and Latino artists who are rarely shown in the U.S. (In Opinion, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican former member of Congress, and Ken Salazar, Barack Obama’s former interior secretary, argue that the country should create a museum honoring American Latino history and culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.) “I’m sure the Europeans didn’t want to restrict their activities any more than we do,” Janet Baseman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, told me over the weekend. “Everyone is tired and ready for this to end, but we have to accept the reality of the data before us.”Many Americans have resisted accepting that reality. Across much of the country, restaurants remain open for indoor dining. Last week, New York State announced a new policy that public health experts consider to be a bizarre middle ground: Businesses with a liquor license can stay open until 10 p.m.- Advertisement – As you can see, both the U.S. and Europe have been coping with severe outbreaks, with caseloads rising even faster in much of Europe than in the U.S. during much of this fall. But over the past two weeks, France, Germany, Spain and Britain have managed to reduce their growth rates.- Advertisement – What is Europe doing differently? It is cracking down on the kind of indoor gatherings that most commonly spread the virus. England closed pubs, restaurants, gyms and more on Nov. 5 and announced they would remain closed until at least Dec. 2. France, Germany’s regional governments and the Catalonia region of Spain have also shut restaurants, among other businesses. Morning ReadsTrilobites: Platypuses glow under black light. Scientists have no idea why.Lives Lived: Lee Hyo-jae championed women’s rights and democracy in South Korea, helping abolish the country’s patriarchal naming system and standing up to its military dictatorship in the 1980s. She died at 95.Subscribers make our reporting possible, so we can help you make sense of the moment. If you’re not a subscriber, please consider becoming one today. The European approach seems to be working better.Look at this chart, which shows the number of new daily virus cases in five countries, adjusted for population size: And the virus is now spreading so rapidly in the U.S. that keeping schools open does pose risks, including the chance that teachers, janitors and other workers infect one another. To keep schools open in a safe way, the U.S. would probably first need to close other public places. Only a few states — including Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington — have closed indoor dining recently.“The U.S. case and hospitalization numbers we’re seeing right now are chilling,” Baseman said.But if there are no perfect solutions to the pandemic, there are better and worse ones. Right now, the U.S. seems to be falling well short of what’s possible.THE LATEST NEWSThe Virus – Advertisement – At last, Princess Diana entersSince Netflix’s “The Crown” began airing in 2016, fans have excitedly anticipated Princess Diana’s character. This weekend, she arrived, in the first episode of the show’s fourth season.It covers Diana from age 16 to 28, starting in the late 1970s. Emma Corrin, in her first prominent role, is playing the part. Sarah Lyall, a former London correspondent for The Times, writes that Corrin nails “the princess’s seductive signature gesture — head tilting to the side, eyes glancing coquettishly upward through her bangs.”The portrayal is based on interviews, news media accounts and a tell-all 1992 biography by Andrew Morton. Diana made revisions to the manuscript in her own handwriting and personally approved every page, Morton has said.One new challenge for this show: A large part of its audience will have lived through the events it’s depicting, like Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as prime minister. Can the show still feel like the escape that the first three seasons were? “As always, they have taken many cinematic liberties,” Sarah writes. “‘Crown’ watchers in Britain are already debating what is accurate and what has been changed for dramatic purposes.”PLAY, WATCH, EATWhat to Cook The one indoor activity that appears to present less risk is school, especially elementary school. Why? Young children seem to spread the virus less often than adults do. “Research has shown that if you put social-distancing protocols in place, school is actually quite a safe environment,” Andreas Schleicher, who studies schools for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, told NPR.Closing schools and switching entirely to remote learning, on the other hand, has big social costs. Children are learning less, and many parents, mostly mothers, have dropped out of the labor force. The U.S. is suffering from both of these problems and from a raging pandemic.There are no easy answers, to be sure. Closing restaurants and other businesses creates economic hardship (which some European countries are trying to reduce through government aid). As the coronavirus has surged again in recent weeks, much of the United States has chosen to keep restaurants open and schools closed. Much of Europe has done the opposite.- Advertisement –
“But it’s also much worse than the spring because this virus is now much more widespread,” she said. “It’s not just one region of the country experiencing the surge. It’s every state.”As in the spring, the latest moves to buckle down have frequently been led by Democratic officials, who have tended to be more willing than Republicans to place restrictions on businesses and issue mask mandates. The governors of Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington who have announced new restrictions in the last few days are all Democrats.So is Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who said on Monday that his state was “pulling the emergency brake” on its reopening plan.He moved most of California’s more populous counties back into the most restrictive tier in the state’s tiered reopening plan, meaning that indoor dining and some other businesses that had been allowed to reopen with limits would have to shut down again. Mr. Newsom added that the state was studying options for imposing a curfew. The virus killed about 1,700 people in Philadelphia in the early months of the pandemic, overwhelming the city’s funeral homes. With Covid-19 hospitalizations soaring again in the city, Dr. Farley warned that the virus could kill a similar number of Philadelphians this fall and winter if left unchecked. Dr. Atlas said later on Sunday that he did not mean to incite violence.The fraught political atmosphere is a return to an earlier era of the pandemic, when protesters who were angry about business shutdowns screamed without masks on at state capitols and Mr. Trump encouraged right-wing protests demanding the reopening of the economy. Those tensions faded in the summer after viral outbreaks cooled in many states. Governors made plans to open up businesses and restaurants, and some of the millions of jobs lost in the pandemic came back. But the new restrictions are meeting resistance, and it has been especially fierce in Michigan, where Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, said on Sunday evening that she would shut down indoor dining, shutter casinos and movie theaters, and halt in-person learning at high schools and colleges for three weeks. A Republican state legislator quickly called for her to be impeached, and Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s coronavirus adviser, urged people in the state to “rise up” in protest. – Advertisement – – Advertisement – But now, the arc of the pandemic has returned to crisis levels nearly everywhere.The country is now recording more than 150,000 new cases each day on average, more than ever before. More than 69,000 people are in the hospital with the virus, the highest number of the pandemic. Reports of coronavirus-related deaths are up 64 percent in the past month, to more than 1,100 people a day. And governors and mayors are returning to the lecterns and video streams where they held daily briefings in the spring, this time to announce urgent new restrictions and plead for compliance.“It feels very similar to the spring,” said Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Dr. Watson said she worried that hospitals in many cities would soon become overwhelmed, as they were in New York City and other places on the East Coast during the spring peak. Under the new rules, outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people for every 1,000 square feet of space, which Dr. Farley said meant barring fans from football games. Youth, community and school sports will be canceled. High schools and colleges were told to shift to remote learning, but child care centers and elementary and middle schools will be allowed to remain open.“The bottom line is this: If we don’t do something to change the trajectory of this epidemic, the hospitals will become full,” Dr. Farley said. “They’ll have difficulty treating people, and we’ll have between several hundred and a thousand deaths by just the end of this year.”Reporting was contributed by Kathleen Gray, Marie Fazio, Jill Cowan, Simon Romero and Bryan Pietsch. But as the pandemic penetrates far and wide, reaching more rural areas and wide swaths of Republican-led states than it touched in the spring, Republican officials who had been hesitant about government overreach have also been wielding their authority more forcefully. The Republican governors of North Dakota and Utah imposed mask mandates last week; Iowa’s governor did the same on Monday, also announcing curfews at restaurants and bars and restrictions on the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings. So far, few officials have returned to the most restrictive measure used in the spring, a complete stay-at-home order. But the Navajo Nation reinstated its stay-at-home order after health officials warned of uncontrolled spread of the virus in dozens of communities in the vast reservation.The order, one of the most aggressive antivirus measures in the nation, took effect on Monday and is to last three weeks. During that time, all roads in the Navajo Nation are closed to visitors, residents must stay at home except for urgent trips, and most government offices will be closed. Essential businesses like gas stations and groceries are allowed to open, but only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.Warning that serious action was needed to prevent a new wave of deaths, officials in Philadelphia announced sweeping measures on Monday to shut down indoor dining, gyms, museums and libraries, close down in-person learning at high schools and colleges through the end of 2020 and ban all indoor gatherings of people from multiple households, even in private homes.“That means no indoor parties, group meals, football watching groups, no visiting between households, no indoor weddings, funerals, baby showers,” Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, said. “We know that is a very strong policy, but this gets at the most important sites of spread.” “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept,” Dr. Atlas wrote on Twitter. On Monday, Ms. Whitmer said the statement left her “breathless.”“It’s just incredibly reckless, considering everything that has happened,” said Ms. Whitmer, who faced fierce opposition for her coronavirus restrictions in the spring: Mr. Trump tweeted a call to “liberate Michigan” and protesters at the State Capitol chanted, “Lock her up.” She was later the target of an alleged kidnapping plot by an antigovernment extremist group, the authorities said.- Advertisement – The scene was familiar: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, addressing a rapidly escalating coronavirus surge in her state, stood at a lectern and somberly announced new restrictions meant to stop the virus from spreading out of control.Within hours, the backlash began.- Advertisement – As the coronavirus crisis mounts with renewed force in the United States, surpassing 11 million total cases and threatening to overwhelm hospitals across the country, governors, mayors and other officials are ordering restrictions, and once again finding themselves in the crosscurrents of public health and economic crises.California, Washington State, Michigan and Oregon have shut indoor dining back down, among other measures. In Chicago, a new stay-at-home advisory went into effect on Monday. In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney introduced a sweeping new set of coronavirus rules, including a ban on most indoor private gatherings, with a plea for understanding: “We do not take any of this lightly,” he said. “Believe me, more than anything in the world, I wish none of this was necessary.”The new wave of restrictions comes at a time when health officials across the nation are reporting more new cases and more hospitalizations from the virus than ever before, and experts are warning that another 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from the virus in the next few months if significant action is not taken.
Nov 4, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Two studies just published by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggest that injecting influenza vaccine just beneath the skin surface, instead of into muscle, may be a way to stretch flu vaccine supplies without sacrificing protection.In one study, young adults who received one fifth of the standard vaccine dose in an intradermal shot showed at least as strong an immune response as others who received full-dose intramuscular shots.In the second study, intradermal vaccination with 40% of a standard dose worked just as well as a standard intramuscular dose in adults aged 18 to 60. However, older adults showed a somewhat less vigorous response to the reduced intradermal dose.”In times of shortage such as the present, intradermal vaccination of healthy young persons with reduced-dose inactivated influenza vaccine could be considered in order to stretch vaccine supplies,” write Robert Belshe, MD, and colleagues, authors of the second study. NEJM published both studies online as early-release articles.Intradermal vaccination involves inserting a needle 1 to 2 mm into the skin, according to the two reports. The method has been used with some success for hepatitis B and rabies vaccinations, but it is not approved for flu vaccination in the United States.The study using young adults was conducted by a Gaithersburg, Md., company called Iomai, which is developing vaccine skin patches. Richard T. Kenney, MD, and colleagues recruited 100 healthy adults ranging from 18 to 40 years old and randomly assigned them to receive either a standard intramuscular dose of trivalent flu vaccine (15 micrograms [mcg] of hemagglutinin per strain) or a single intradermal dose at about 20% strength (3 mcg of hemagglutinin per strain).As measured by increases in hemagglutination-inhibition titers 21 days after vaccination, the immune response in the intradermal group was similar to or better than that in the intramuscular group, the report says. Those who received intradermal shots had more local reactions to the vaccine, but the reactions were mild and transient.The authors write that using reduced-dose intradmeral shots “is particularly appealing, because standard tuberculin syringes and needles can be used with multidose vials of influenza [vaccine] to increase the supply of influenza vaccine by a factor about five.” But they add that further studies are needed to show the “wide-ranging relevance” of the technique.In the other study, researchers from Saint Louis University, the University of Rochester, and GlaxoSmithKline assigned two groups of 119 people each to receive trivalent flu vaccine by intradermal or intramuscular injection. The intradermal shots contained 6 mcg of hemagglutinin for each strain, while the intramuscular shot contained the standard dose of 15 mcg for each strain. Each group was divided into younger and older subgroups—18 to 60 years and older than 60.In the younger people, the two injection methods both yielded serum antibody responses that were “vigorous” and not significantly different. The older subgroups also had a strong antibody response to both types of vaccination, but the response was somewhat better in those who received intramuscular shots. However, the difference was significant only for one of the three viral strains in the vaccine (H3N2).As in the other study, local reactions to the injections were more common among the intradermal group than the intramuscular group, but they were mostly mild.The authors suggest that the intradermal injections could be used for younger members of two of the groups assigned priority for flu vaccine in the current shortage: healthcare workers and close contacts of infants younger than 6 months. The researchers add that the intradermal technique is harder to learn than the standard technique, but vaccinators would be likely to use the method effectively after training.The two reports are hailed as significant in an accompanying editorial by the late John R. La Montagne, PhD, and Anthony S. Fauci, MD, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “Both of the current studies clearly show that intradermal vaccination may have greater immunogenicity than intramuscular vaccination,” they write. (La Montagne, who was deputy director of the NIAID, died suddenly this week.)On the basis of the two new studies and previous reports on intradermal immunization, “It is becoming clear that use of the intradermal route may at least partially overcome the relatively poor influenza-specific immune responses seen in certain at-risk populations, particularly the elderly,” La Montagne and Fauci write. They call for clinical trials in “a broad range of populations” to pave the way for approval of intradermal vaccination for flu.Kenney RT, Frech SA, Muenza LR, et al. Dose sparing with intradermal injection of influenza vaccine. N Engl J Med 2004;351(22) (published online Nov 3) [Full text]Belshe RB, Newman FK, Cannon J, et al. Serum antibody responses after intradermal vaccination against influenza. N Engl J Med 2004;351(22) (published online Nov 3) [Full text]
Aug 25, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The British biotechnology firm Acambis recently announced its launching of a quest for the Holy Grail of influenza prevention: a vaccine that would protect people from the virus for many years and perhaps even stave off future pandemic strains.With current technology, flu vaccines have to be retooled every year in a time-consuming effort to cope with minor mutations that enable the flu virus to avoid quick detection by the immune system. But a vaccine based on parts of the virus that stay the same, instead of those that often change, could eliminate the need to bring out a new model every year.Acambis announced early this month that it was collaborating with Belgium’s Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (known as VIB) to replace the annual flu vaccine with a perennial one.”The aim of the research collaboration would be to generate a ‘universal’ vaccine candidate that would protect against both A and B strains of influenza and, more importantly, would not require annual changes to the formulation,” the company said in its Aug 4 announcement.The company hopes that such a vaccine could also protect people from a pandemic flu virus, which can arise from a major change, or “antigenic shift,” in viral components. With disease experts warning that the H5N1 avian flu virus could turn into a pandemic strain any day, that prospect is doubly attractive. However, availability of such a vaccine is, at best, years away—too far in the future to help combat any near-term pandemic.The frequent minor changes in flu viruses involve two of the virus’s surface proteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, represented by the H and N in names like “H5N1.” Hemagglutinin and neuraminidase enable flu viruses to enter host cells and then exit them after replicating. Current vaccines target these highly mutable proteins, making it necessary to adjust the vaccines each year to match the circulating strains.Acambis’s vaccine effort focuses on a far less shifty viral protein, called M2. “A major component of the new [vaccine] candidates,” the company said, “will be M2e, the extracellular domain of the ion channel protein M2, which is specific to influenza A. Being highly conserved, M2e is intended to elicit protective immune responses against all strains of influenza A. M2e is incorporated in a unique carrier system that forms highly immunogenic virus-like particles.”Ashley Birkett, Acambis’s director of viral immunology in Cambridge, Mass., said the company is working on a separate technology for type B influenza. If the type A and B vaccines both prove effective, combining the two into one shot “would give us a truly universal vaccine,” he told CIDRAP News.The A type vaccine would potentially protect people against pandemic flu, since previous known pandemic strains were type A and future ones are expected to follow suit, Birkett said.”The advantage of this approach is that the manufacturing relative to the vaccine would be much easier,” he said. “It would be the same vaccine year after year.”Since the vaccine wouldn’t have to be changed each year, manufacturing could be continuous, instead of occurring each spring and summer after health officials pick the flu strains they think will prevail the following winter. With year-round manufacturing, people could be immunized any time of year, not just in the fall or winter, and vaccine could be stockpiled, Birkett said.Conventional production of flu vaccine involves growing whole copies of a weakened virus in chicken eggs (though several companies are working on growing flu viruses in cell culture). Acambis’s experimental vaccine is manufactured with a “recombinant bacterial fermentation technology,” in which bacteria are used to make selected viral proteins, rather than whole virus. “The bacteria can make single proteins for us,” Birkett said.With this technique, the production time for a batch of vaccine is “a matter of weeks,” as compared with about 6 months for egg-based vaccine, he said. “But the main difference is you’re going to be making the virus year-round. It really comes down to the fact that we don’t have to change the product,” he added.Acambis said its initial vaccine candidate is “in pre-clinical development” and has been tested successfully in animals. Two recent journal articles describe successful tests of various versions of the vaccine in mice.The reports, published in Virus Research and Virology, say that M2e generates only a weak immune response during flu infection and when used in a conventional vaccine. But when it is linked to an appropriate carrier, such as hepatitis B virus core (HBc) particles, it induces a strong antibody response. When various versions of the M2e-HBc combination were used with an adjuvant (a chemical that stimulates the immune system), they fully protected mice from a potentially lethal flu infection, the reports say.Work on the vaccine has already been going on for several years. Acambis said it acquired the vaccine from Apovia, a US biotechnology firm, earlier this year. Apovia started developing the vaccine in 2000, after licensing the technology from VIB, where Walter Fiers led the research on which the vaccine is based.Birkett said he couldn’t predict when the firm might launch clinical trials or how long it might take to bring the vaccine to licensing, but indications are it will be a lengthy effort.Theoretically, a perennial flu vaccine is a great concept, said Gregory Poland, MD, a vaccine expert at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.”One of the real problems we have is that each year, the vaccine is an educated guess,” Poland told CIDRAP News, referring to the problem of predicting which flu strains will predominate in a given season. “The other problem is getting large numbers of people to get a vaccine every year.”A single vaccine that would reliably fend off the shifty virus for years would eliminate both of those difficulties. “A flu vaccine that could be given once, twice, or periodically would be a grand slam,” said Poland, who is a professor of medicine in infectious diseases at the Mayo College of Medicine and directs the Mayo Vaccine Research Group and Program in Translational Immunovirology.But Poland was cautious in assessing the likelihood of success.”We need a proof of principle at this point,” he said. “There are a number of entities trying to develop a similar vaccine. I do think it’s theoretically possible. From an immunologic point of view, the key will be choosing the right antigen [viral protein] and knowing that the antigen is displayed early in the infection, so that an immune response can be generated early enough to abort the infection. My concern is if you find antigens that are displayed late in the infection, you may generate an immune response too late to do much good.”Birkett acknowledged that the experimental vaccine targets the virus later in its life cycle than conventional vaccines do. “But if you want a universal vaccine, you have to target a component that develops later in the life cycle,” he said.”It’s a totally new vaccine approach,” he said. “We’re confident, we’re hopeful, but until we do the [clinical] studies, we won’t know for sure [if the vaccine will work]. If it does work, it’ll be the Holy Grail. It could meet the need for influenza [protection] year after year.”Acambis is not the only organization pursuing a universal flu vaccine. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is supporting efforts by several other researchers on the same problem.Andrew Pekosz of Washington University in St. Louis and David Milich of the Vaccine Research Institute in San Diego are working on a vaccine that, like Acambis’s, targets the M2 protein of the influenza A virus, according to an article on the NIAID’s influenza Web site.Because relatively few copies of the M2 protein are present on the outer coat of the virus, an M2-based vaccine made from a normal flu strain generates only a weak immune response, the article notes. Milich is addressing this problem by developing a “bulked up” M2 vaccine that contains 240 copies of the protein, which stimulates the production of more antibodies.Other researchers working on similar vaccines include Walter Gerhard at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and Gary Van Nest at the biotechnology company Dynavax, according to the NIAID. Gerhard’s vaccine targets the M2 protein, while Van Nest is using another viral protein, called NP.Poland predicts it will take years to bring a universal flu vaccine to market, if it can be done at all. “I wouldn’t hold my breath that we’re going to have a vaccine like this in the next couple of years,” he said. “I think proof of principle you could get in a couple of years. For licensure of a vaccine like that, the typical cycle is going to be somewhere in the 7- to 10-year horizon.” But he added that it might be possible to speed up the process, especially if the vaccine would be effective against a pandemic virus.See also:Aug 5 Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology releasePubMed abstracts with links to full text of reports on M2e influenza vaccine:A ‘universal’ human influenza A vaccine (Virus Research 2004)Universal influenza A vaccine: optimization of M2-based constructs (Virology 2005)
Oct 6, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Recent US government contracts to test two experimental anthrax drugs could lead to the purchase of up to 100,000 doses of each.Cangene, based in Winnipeg, Man., has received a contract from the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to supply its anthrax immune globulin (AIG) for preliminary efficacy testing, according to a company news release. The company describes AIG as a hyperimmune product for treating or preventing inhalational anthrax, caused by Bacillus anthracis.HHS has the next year to decide whether to purchase from 10,000 to 100,000 doses of AIG over three years. If that happens, Cangene must seek Food and Drug Administration approval of the product.HHS has awarded a similar contract to Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGS) of Rockville, Md. In the first phase of the contract, worth $1.8 million, the company will sell the government 10 grams of ABthrax, a human monoclonal antibody for treating anthrax, the company announced on Oct 3. The government then will have the option to buy up to 100,000 doses of the product within a year.B anthracis is considered a category A bioweapon. Four years ago this month, soon after the Sep 11 attacks, anthrax spores sent through the US mail caused a series of anthrax cases that eventually totaled 22 (11 cutaneous and 11 inhalational). Five patients with inhalational anthrax died. The case has never been solved.See also: CIDRAP anthrax overviewhttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/anthrax/biofacts/index.html
Jul 11, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Health officials in Perth, Australia, last week advised parents to seek medical care quickly for young children with respiratory symptoms, after three children under age 5 died of pneumonia as a complication of “mild” influenza A infections.Paul Van Buynder, director of communicable disease control for Western Australia’s health department, said in a Jul 6 press release that officials were surprised by how quickly the illness developed in the children. “While we do not want to create unnecessary panic, it is important for parents to be aware that the disease can cause serious illness within 24 hours,” he said.The children who died had a streptococcal pneumonia infection, but health officials have not announced what type, according to a recent report from Australian Broadcasting Corporation News.The cases started out as “mild influenza A infection,” Van Buynder told the Australian Associated Press. He said the health department found no links between the children’s cases. Australia is at the peak of its flu season, and the report said hospitals in the Perth area were inundated by anxious parents bringing children with flu symptoms.News of the Australian cases comes as infectious disease and public health experts are worrying about the threat of a flu pandemic associated with H5N1 avian flu. In past flu pandemics, bacterial coinfections have contributed substantially to deaths.The Australian report also is a reminder of recent worries US health officials have had about rising numbers of young flu patients who have suffered coinfections with the sometimes-fatal Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia, in some cases involving drug-resistant strains.S aureus can cause a severe, necrotizing pneumonia that has a relatively high case-fatality rate—33% during the 1968-69 flu pandemic, the CDC said in an Apr 13 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article that detailed some of the recent fatal cases.Evidence points to a synergistic relationship between S aureus and influenza, according to an article in the June 2006 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases. Flu viruses appear to increase S aureus adhesion in the respiratory tract, and S aureus-specific enzymes (proteases) appear to increase flu virus replication. Also, influenza A virus strains appear to decrease destruction of S aureus by immune cells called phagocytes, making patients more susceptible to bacterial coinfection.In May the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert after noticing an increase in the number of S aureus infections in children with flu. The CDC said that from October 2006 through early May, 55 influenza deaths in children had been reported. Twenty of the children (out of 51 for whom relevant data were available) had bacterial infections, and 16 of these were infected with S aureus.Though the number of pediatric flu deaths this past flu season was similar to the two previous years, the CDC said the 16 deaths from S aureus pneumonia or bacteremia recorded so far reflected a sharp increase over those years. Only one S aureus coinfection was identified during the 2004-05 season, followed by three in 2005-06.Further, of the 16 children who had S aureus infections, 11 had methicillin-resistant (MRSA) strains that are typically associated with MRSA skin infection outbreaks, the CDC advisory said.The CDC also noted that the children who had S aureus infections had been in good health before they got sick, but progressed rapidly to serious illness.Anthony Fiore, MD, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC, told CIDRAP News that because childhood flu deaths have been nationally notifiable only since 2004, it’s difficult to make definitive statements about pneumonia death patterns. “It is concerning, and there is a surge in awareness, particularly with the antibiotic resistant strains of Staphylococcus,” he said.The CDC has other ways to track pneumonia trends in children with influenza, he said. For example, the Emerging Infections Program and the New Vaccine Surveillance Network are two systems that can capture clusters of severe infections in children that lead to hospitalization.Edward Septimus, MD, an infectious disease expert who is medical director of clinical integration at Methodist Hospital in Houston, told CIDRAP News that the clinical picture of the Australian cases possibly suggests a Group A Streptococcus organism. “It’s a severe clinical picture and it can act a lot like MRSA. The necrotizing effects are very similar,” he said. Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, died of a Group A streptococcal pneumonia, Septimus added.He said that without more information, it’s difficult to predict whether the Australian cases point to any troubling trends. Sometimes, he commented, patients are simply unlucky: Their risk of developing a serious pneumonia rises if they are colonized with a bacterial organism such as MRSA or Streptococcus when influenza viruses are circulating.See also:Western Australia Department of Health news releasehttp://www.health.wa.gov.au/press/view_press.cfm?id=711May 9 CDC health advisoryCDC. Severe methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus community-acquired pneumonia associated with influenza—Louisiana and Georgia, December 2006-January 2007. MMWR 2007;56(14):325-29 [Full text]Hageman JC, Uyeki TM, Francis JS, et al. Severe community-acquired pneumonia due to Staphyococcus aureus, 2003-04 influenza season. Emerg Infect Dis 2006 Jun;12(6):894-99 [Full text]
The agency said investigators are still trying to find out why human cases have been associated with dry pet food. Factors being considered include handling and storage of dry pet food, handwashing practices, exposure of children to dry pet food, and the location in the home where pets are fed. Sixty-six people in 18 states have been infected with the same strain of Salmonella Schwarzengrund, and reports of new cases are continuing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement. The Food and Drug Administration had said earlier that two samples of dry dog food made by Mars Petcare US, Inc., had tested positive for S Schwarzengrund, but no direct link between the company’s products and the human cases had been found. Aug 28 CDC statementhttp://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/schwarzengrund.html “Households with ill persons were significantly more likely than matched households without ill persons to usually purchase a brand of dry pet food made by Mars Petcare US that may have been produced at a single facility in Pennsylvania,” the CDC said. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Health found the outbreak strain in an environmental sample from the Mars Petcare facility in Pennsylvania, the statement said. The CDC said 25 of the 66 salmonellosis cases reported so far occurred in Pennsylvania, with 12 in New York, 6 in Ohio, 5 in Massachusetts, and 1 or 2 in each of the other states affected. See also: Aug 29, 2007 (CIDRAP News) Further investigation has strengthened the evidence of a link between recently recalled dog food products and human Salmonella infections, US health officials reported yesterday. The CDC, however, said yesterday that the outbreak strain of S Schwarzengrund was found in fecal specimens from two dogs that ate dry pet food in the homes of two case-patients. In addition, a multistate case-control study showed a link between illness and the purchase of dry pet foods made by Mars Petcare, the agency said. Aug 28 CIDRAP News story “Outbreak strain of Salmonella found in dog food” Of the patients for whom information was available, 39% were 1 year old or younger and 32% experienced bloody diarrhea. Ten patients were hospitalized, but none died, the CDC reported.