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Today's Headlines: January 11, 2018

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Cholera Threatens Congo's Capital as Hundreds Die from Lack of Treatment ( Thomas Reuters Foundation) Democratic Republic of Congo is racing to contain a cholera outbreak that has swept through villages ravaged by conflict and is now spreading quickly in the overcrowded capital, officials and health workers said on Tuesday. Go to article

Cholera Vaccination Campaign Begins in Lusaka: 'One of the Worst Outbreaks in Years' ( Outbreak News Today) In a follow-up on the cholera outbreak in Zambia, health officials, with help from WHO and partners, commenced a cholera vaccination campaign today to vaccinate residents of Lusaka. Go to article

Zambia Shuts Down All Schools to Combat Cholera Outbreak ( ReliefWeb) The start of the school year in Zambia has been postponed by a cholera outbreak that has killed 61 people and affected thousands. Children, who were due to return to classrooms this week, will be staying at home until at least the end of January. Go to article

Government Affairs & National Security

UN Environment and WHO Agree to Major Collaboration on Environmental Health Risks ( WHO) UN Environment and WHO have agreed a new, wide-ranging collaboration to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million deaths a year. Go to article

Global Health Security

"What the Hell is Going On?" Polio Cases Are Vanishing in Pakistan, Yet the Virus Won't Go Away ( Science) Just a year ago, poliovirus seemed on its last legs in Pakistan, one of its final strongholds. Polio cases were steadily falling, from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016, and, by last count, 8 in 2017. Blood tests showed that, overall, immunity to the virus had never been higher, even among children aged 6 to 11 months, thanks to years of tireless vaccination campaigns. Go to article

Medicine & Public Health

WHO Supports the Immunization of 1 Million People Against Cholera in Zambia ( WHO) The Government of Zambia has launched a campaign on Wednesday (January 10) to vaccinate residents of Lusaka against cholera with support from WHO and partners. Two million doses of the oral cholera vaccine from the Gavi-funded global stockpile were delivered to the southern African country in January, enough to immunize 1 million people. Go to article

Gov. Wolf Declares Statewide Opioid Emergency ( The Herald) Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday declared the escalating opioid crisis a public health emergency. The move will allow his administration to use the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to coordinate efforts between agencies to respond to the crisis for at least 3 months, he said. Go to article

An 'Unsustainable' Model: Drug Makers Signal Interest in Exiting Vaccine Development During Crises ( STAT News) Every few years an alarming disease launches a furious, out-of-the-blue attack on people, triggering a high-level emergency response. SARS. The H1N1 flu pandemic. West Nile and Zika. The nightmarish West African Ebola epidemic. In nearly each case, major vaccine producers have risen to the challenge, setting aside their day-to-day profit-making activities to try to meet a pressing societal need. Go to article

Trump Administration Opens Door to Let States Impose Medicaid Work Requirements ( Washington Post) The Trump administration issued guidance to states early Thursday that will allow them to compel people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid for the 1st time in the half-century history of this pillar of the nation's social safety net. Go to article

Science & Technology

Experimental MERS Treatment Shows Broad Potential in Trial ( Outbreak News Today) An experimental treatment developed from cattle plasma for MERS coronavirus infection shows broad potential, according to a small clinical trial led by the NIH scientists and their colleagues. The treatment, SAB-301, was safe and well tolerated by healthy volunteers, with only minor reactions documented. Go to article

See also: Safety and Tolerability of a Novel, Polyclonal Human Anti-MERS Coronavirus Antibody Produced from Transchromosomic Cattle: A Phase 1 Randomised, Double-Blind, Single-Dose-Escalation Study ( The Lancet) MERS is a severe respiratory illness with an overall mortality of 35%. There is no licensed or proven treatment. Passive immunotherapy approaches are being developed to prevent and treat several human medical conditions where alternative therapeutic options are absent. We report the safety of a fully human polyclonal IgG antibody (SAB-301) produced from the hyperimmune plasma of transchromosomic cattle immunised with a MERS coronavirus vaccine. Go to article

China's Fledgling Biotech Sector Fizzes into Life ( Nature Biotechnology) Changes at the China Food and Drug Administration have resulted in a "tsunami of new drug launches" in 2017, according to a McKinsey report published in November, with 35 new drugs reaching the market compared with just 5 drugs the year before. Another 177 molecules are currently under priority review, suggesting a second wave is primed to hit soon. At the same time, an uptick in deals with Western companies investing in Chinese development programs, particularly in oncology, is signaling more quality leads coming through the pipeline. Go to article

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