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As Ebola interest ebbs, experts push for optimal vaccines, readiness

first_imgIn its third report in as many years, a team of vaccine, public health, and industry experts today urge global leaders to not let up on developing as many Ebola vaccines as needed so the world will be better prepared for the next outbreak of the deadly disease, even though public attention has shifted to other threats, including Zika virus.The “Team B” panel of experts, in its “Completing the Development of Ebola Vaccines” report, commends the World Health Organization (WHO) for its leadership in response to the 2013-16 West Africa outbreak, but calls for new, innovative ways to keep momentum going and bring one or more vaccines to regulatory approval, which has yet to happen. The WHO was roundly criticized for its slow response to Ebola, and the authors of the report say the agency “is not in a position to manage and fund all of the complexities associated with bringing Ebola vaccines to market.” Instead, they recommend a separate “champion” group to see vaccine and preparedness efforts come to fruition, with input and guidance from the WHO.The report highlights the impressive achievement of quickly producing and obtaining favorable results in humans for one vaccine, Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV. Yet it emphasizes that not only has that vaccine not been licensed, but many questions remain about how to move forward with that and other vaccines and how best to position global health to arm itself for the next infectious disease threat.”We must maintain the sense of urgency that has pushed this work forward in previous years,” said Jeremy Farrar, MD, PhD, Wellcome Trust director and Team B co-chair. “The success of future efforts will depend on our continued action with the Ebola vaccine, and we call on the global community to commit to overcoming the remaining hurdles.”The expert panel, called Ebola Vaccine Team B, was assembled in 2014 by the Wellcome Trust and the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota. The “Team B” moniker refers to its supportive role to the WHO and other leadership agencies.”We clearly have made important progress with realizing effective Ebola vaccines that can one day result in an Ebola-prepared world. But I worry that we’re currently trying to power this Ebola vaccine train with an automobile engine,” said CIDRAP Director Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, the other Team B co-chair. “There are critical challenges that remain with regard to vaccine R&D [research and development], licensing, financing and both outbreak and prophylactic deployment.”CIDRAP is the publisher of CIDRAP News, but its research and policy efforts operate independently from its news operations.Team B published “Recommendations for Accelerating the Development of Ebola Vaccines: Report and Analysis” in February 2015 and “Plotting the Course of Ebola Vaccines: Challenges and Unanswered Questions” in March 2016.Gaps in Ebola vaccine readinessToday’s report lists 13 key gaps in moving forward with vaccine candidates and in overall Ebola vaccine preparedness, including stalling out on decisions necessary to license rVSV-ZEBOV. Other uncertainties surround the planning about vaccine stockpiling, how to be ready to conduct further vaccine trials when the next outbreak occurs, how to reimburse manufacturers, and the fate of other vaccine candidates once Merck’s vaccine is licensed.Since its inception, Team B has emphasized that, even if one vaccine gains licensure, there could well be a role for other vaccines that demonstrate benefits in other ways, such as storage at more convenient temperatures or length of immune response.The WHO has lagged on making some key vaccine-related decisions, the experts write. “The WHO has not made determinations regarding the Emergency Use Assessment and Listing (EUAL) applications for Ebola vaccines from Merck (filing completed in December 2015) and Johnson & Johnson (filing completed in September 2016).” The WHO developed the EUAL designation to expedite vaccine candidates.The report adds, “Coordination of approvals for emergency use of vaccines remains a gap in preparedness against Ebola. For example, the WHO needs to clarify how vaccines with EUAL status will be granted approval for emergency use by local national regulatory authorities (NRAs). Ideally, a harmonized emergency use regulatory pathway across regulatory agencies should be in place.” At the moment, it is not.The Team B report also details challenges for vaccines that are not rVSV-ZEBOV, as the outbreak in West Africa was dwindling when they were ready for large-scale trials. The experts also enumerate overarching problems that any vaccine maker faces.In addition, global health leaders are faced with vastly reduced interest in Ebola once the outbreak was declared over last year. “Part of the challenge we have is that the world looks at what happened in West Africa in 2013 through 2016 with Ebola as a one-off event,” Osterholm said. “I worry about what could happen if an outbreak flares in a huge metropolitan area like Kinshasa [of the Democratic Republic of the Congo]. That outbreak could dwarf anything we’ve seen in the past.”Key recommendationsForemost among the group’s 11 recommendations is restructuring of leadership for Ebola vaccine preparedness.”Consideration should be given,” the group writes, “to establishing a dedicated consortium focused on ‘championing’ Ebola vaccines and resolving the remaining key issues related to global Ebola emergency preparedness (similar to what has been done with meningococcal and malaria vaccine initiatives). This group could represent a new public-private partnership that would operate independent of the WHO, but with WHO input and guidance.”Such a group would be able to spearhead strategies to address the gaps raised in the report, the experts say.Osterholm added that having three key leadership positions in transition in 2016—the WHO director-general, the United Nations secretary general, and the president of the United States—adds another layer of complication to the leadership issue. He said Ebola vaccine efforts need champions in all three positions in order to advance.He added that the newly formed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) could also play a key role. CEPI was initiated in August 2016 and includes stakeholders from governments, industry, public and philanthropic funders, academia, and other groups.Team B member David Kaslow, MD, vice president of essential medicines for the global health nonprofit PATH, underscored the need for a novel public-private partnership in outbreak response.”No one existing entity encompasses the critical contributors needed for an optimal comprehensive response. . . . As such, either a significant change in the terms of reference of an existing entity or a new, inclusive entity will be needed. Despite all the complexities associated with standing up a new entity, such as CEPI, a new public-private partnership is likely the best approach.”Other recommendations in the report center on hurdles that vaccine manufacturers face; promotion of scientific collaboration; exploration of using vaccines for people at high risk, such as healthcare workers, before an outbreak occurs; clarification of steps for regulatory approval; planning for additional clinical trials; and development of strategies for post-licensure trials.Future role for Team BThe work of Team B will continue as long as there is a need for a catalyst to keep Ebola vaccine efforts—and infectious disease preparedness in general—advancing, Osterholm said.”Team B will continue to play, I hope, a critical role. We are committed to staying the course until we have a world prepared for Ebola.”Kaslow added, “The time-tested Red Team approach of an independent, multidisciplinary team, embodied by Team B, to poke holes and provocatively prod well-established organizations to challenge conventional wisdom or group think, will no doubt sharpen the focus of responses and generate innovative solutions to future outbreak responses and preparedness.”A standing Team B to provide real-time poking and prodding is a prudent insurance policy for being better prepared for responding to the next outbreak.”See also:Jan 17 Ebola Vaccine Team B report landing pagelast_img read more

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News Scan for Jan 03, 2020

first_imgEbola infects 2 more in the DRCTwo more cases were confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak, raising the total to 3,385, according to the latest numbers reflected on the World Health Organization (WHO) online Ebola dashboard.Health officials are still investigating 292 suspected cases, and the number of deaths held steady at 2,232.The DRC’s Ebola technical committee (CMRE) in its latest daily update had locations for yesterday’s two new cases, which were reported from Butembo and Mabalako, the latter being the current main hot spot in the outbreak.WHO online Ebola dashboard Jan 2 CMRE update FDA, CDC track 85 more Salmonella cases linked to tainted fruit mixYesterday the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracked 85 more cases of illnesses in a multistate outbreak of Salmonella connected to a fruit mix with cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and grapes from Tailor Cut Produce of North Brunswick, New Jersey.A total of 96 people in 11 states have been sickened, with 27 hospitalizations. So far, there have been no deaths. Tailor Cut Produce recalled the Fruit Luau cut fruit mix on Dec 7; the product was not sold directly to consumers, and instead sold for use in institutional food service establishment, including hospitals and schools.”Illnesses were reported from states where Tailor Cut Produce distributes, including Pennsylvania, New York City, New Jersey, and Delaware. Ill people from other states reported traveling to these states in the week before their illness started,” the CDC said.According to the CDC, 30 (86%) of 35 ill people reported eating cut fruit served in long-term care facilities, hospitals, hotels, schools, or at a university.In a recommendation issued yesterday, the FDA said institutions need to check for fruit sold to them between Nov 15 and Dec 1, 2019.”Because the recalled products may have been distributed to nursing homes, schools, hospitals and other facilities that cater to vulnerable populations, it is important that these facilities do not sell or serve them. Please consult with your distributor to confirm the source of the fruit mix and cut fruit used in your operation,” the FDA said.Jan 2 CDC update Jan 2 FDA update USDA issues warning about products linked to egg Listeria recallThe US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) yesterday issued a public health warning about Listeria monocytogenes illnesses linked to hard-boiled eggs that have been recalled by Almark Foods.On Dec 23, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a recall notice that said the company had expanded its voluntary recall to include all hard-boiled egg items produced at its Gainesville, Ga., facility. They include retail, pillow pack, pouch pack, frozen diced, and protein kits. A recent sample tested positive for the outbreak strain, suggesting that contamination had lingered in the plant.Some of the products containing the eggs are regulated by the USDA, including sandwiches that include bacon. “FSIS is issuing this public health alert out of an abundance of caution to ensure that consumers are aware that these products should not be consumed,” the agency said in its statement.According to the latest CDC information, the number of infected people remains at 7 from 5 states. Four people have been hospitalized, and one death was reported.Jan 2 FSIS statement Dec 27, 2019, CDC outbreak updatelast_img read more

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Will REITS solve Britain’s housing crisis?

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

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A-Gas buys Dutch reclamation business

first_imgGet instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270. Subscribelast_img

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The Port of Charleston enhances breakbulk handling capabilities

first_imgThe Port of Charleston offers four, rail-served terminals to handle diverse breakbulk and project cargo needs and says it has invested personnel and resources to target non-containerised cargoes. The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCPSA), which owns and operates the Port of Charleston, also approved more than USD20 million in improvements to Columbus Street Terminal that will be completed in April 2011. In recent months, ocean carriers have also increased non-container services in the Port of Charleston. In April, Liberty Global Logistics began inducement calls to Charleston’s Veterans Terminal serving Middle East ports. In June, Rickmers-Linie announced regular, monthly calls in Charleston as part of its new NCS service, which calls at Columbus Street Terminal as well as the Veterans Terminal. Non-containerised cargo in Charleston and Georgetown is expected to climb 53 percent during the 2011 fiscal year. “South Carolina is aggressively growing its non-container cargo business, and these new services are evidence that the state’s base is strong,” said Paul McClintock, senior vice president and chief commercial officer at SCSPA.last_img read more

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Van Seumeren family withdraws from Mammoet

first_imgSHV, the majority shareholder in Mammoet, is to take full control of the company and members of the Van Seumeren family, including president and CEO Roderick van Seumeren, have decided to offer their resignation as directors of the company.HLPFI understands that Jan Kleijn, Neil Birkbeck, Herman Smit, and Eric Rave – all of whom currently work for the company – have been appointed to the company’s executive board, joining the current CFO, Siem Kranenburg. The new board will be led by Kleijn as CEO.SHV, a family-owned business with roots in coal mining and diversified investments in energy, lifting and industrial services, bought a majority stake in Mammoet in 2006 and has seen the company’s revenues and operating income double over the past four years.last_img read more

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Witnesses sought for film shoot

first_imgRon Bell, then 26, and his brother Tom, then 20, outside Helmsely Hotel in 1970. . London-based brothers Tom and Ron Bell are searching for witnesses to the 1970 non-lethal explosions, in Cape Town, that scattered subversive ANC pamphlets as they went off simultaneously in parts of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban. The two hope that witnesses will add South African voices to a film they’re making, called London Recruits, the Secret War Against Apartheid, which is expected to be released before the end of the year. The film is focused on the role played by UK citizens in the fight for freedom in South Africa. Tom and Ron have already written a book and are now taking things a step further by taking the story to the big screen. “We are now looking for witnesses who could help us add that South African voice,” said Tom. Returning to the country for the first time since they first visited in 1970 to carry out their mission, Ron Bell, 73, and his younger brother Tom, 67, made a plea to South Africans, particularly black people who witnessed the blasts or picked up the pamphlets, to get in touch with them. The duo, active members of the Communist Party in the UK, flew into the country, in August 1970, to plant hand-made bombs around the Cape Town central business district in the fight against apartheid. In an interview with Athlone News, the brothers said they had come to the then “dangerous” South Africa after a meeting with Ronnie Kasrils, former intelligence minister, who at the time was exiled in London with many other ANC leaders. They were recruited to come and plant the bombs in Cape Town to spread the message that the ANC was alive and well and that the struggle continued. “Because we were the right skin colour, we could do it,” said Ron. The pair spent two weeks, at Helmsely Hotel, which is now part of the Mount Nelson Hotel, before returning to London. They spent a week before planting the bombs at Cape Town train station, the Grand Parade and outside Newspaper House, in St George’s Mall – where Athlone News offices are situated – on Friday August 14 1970. In total they planted five bombs, and set them so that they would explode simultaneously. Four of the five devices went off as planned, they said. To their surprise, there were similar bombings in other parts of the country at exactly the same time. “We assumed we were the only ones who had come to do that, until the next day when we saw the papers,” said Tom. Their mission came at the time when political parties faced a difficult time. Most of the ANC leaders, including former president Nelson Mandela, had been arrested. “This was at the time when the ANC was on its knees. Everyone was down because of the arrests,” said Ron. He said the bombings were designed to give black people hope, and they indeed lifted people’s spirits across the nation. Asked about the risks and fears of flying into the country while knowing they could well be arrested, Ron said as a young man he felt “invisible” and never thought of being caught. “I felt so great when I returned to London,” he said. “We kept quiet about everything until Ronnie published his book in 2005.” * Witnesses can get in touch with the brothers at www.facebook.com/barefootrascalscardiff or Twitter page BarefootRascals or email rockinronbell@yahoo.co.uklast_img read more

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Effective IT will be the key to winning the war

first_imgAMONG the most impressive presentations at the IRCA-UIC seminar on Customer-oriented Information Technology held in Stockholm on July 5-6 was a demonstration of RailTracker. Using a live connection to the internet, Unctad’s Coll Hunter demonstrated the system’s ability to locate freight consignments anywhere in the world where the relevant software is installed. By dialling up Tanzania Freight Corp, he was able to show the assembled 275 chief executives and IT experts from over 40 countries the status and position of a trainload of containerised freight consignments in the heart of Africa.Leaving aside the fact that one shipment had taken 12 days to travel a rather short distance, it was a fine illustration of what can be achieved with a relatively simple data system. Customers, shippers and forwarders can all track the progress of their freight by phone, internet or websites installed on individual railways that provide information from RailTracker databases. The latest version of RailTracker as used in Asia was fully described in RG 7.98 p477 and its initial applications in Africa in Rail Business Report 1995. RailTracker went live in Bangladesh and Zambia on July 15, and it is soon to be installed in Bulgaria and another east European country.Charles Dettmann, the AAR Executive Vice President, Operations & Research, outlined the principles of Interline Service Management now operating in several US corridors. Consignment information all passes through the AAR’s Train II computer system, giving connected railroads access to data about shipments across North America. Both presentations highlighted just what successful information systems can achieve.It was a different story in Europe, where a plethora of national IT systems had been developed independently. While Hermes had provided an effective link between networks from the end of the 1970s, it was unable to cope with today’s demands for yield management, market pricing and similar functions. These were available on France’s Resarail passenger ticketing and reservations system, but this was incompatible with systems developed in Germany. Attempts to achieve compatibility are focused on the Espoir group set up in 1997 (for the uninitiated Espoir stands for ’Edifact Solutions for Pan-European Open systems Interconnection of Railways’ and Edifact stands for Electronic Data Interchange For Adminstration, Commerce & Transport’), but it is clear that there are major disagreements between rival factions among Europe’s railways. Ugo Dell’ Arciprete, Databank Manager for Italian State Railways and Espoir Project Manager at the UIC, fears that attempts to render the different systems compatible may yet founder, leaving Europe’s railways unconnected in IT terms at a time when information is fast becoming the key in the battle to win customers from other modes.Ian Jordan, a Senior Vice President of Cap Gemini, highlighted the need for railways to own detailed information about their customers’ needs and shipments. Ownership of information increasingly represents power in business, and Jordan believed that railways must become logistics providers so that they are the transport brokers for services stretching from factories to the final consumer. He cited Swiss Federal Railways as not being interested in the contents of lorries being piggybacked over the Gotthard, and warned that it is important to know the contents and destination of shipments. This might, for example, have avoided an incident on the day after the Conrail break-up when jumbo jets had to be hired to fly GM car parts to Detroit that had wrongly arrived in Cleveland because hundreds of freight cars had crossed an interchange with no waybills.There have been plenty of warnings for railways in Europe and elsewhere – and another came at the High Speed & Tilting Trains Congress in London on July 1 when one delegate from Australia remarked that it had taken a few minutes to make his flight bookings but a week to obtain a seat on a train from Zürich to Bremen. Today’s IT capabilities should already have consigned such problems to history.last_img read more

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The Irishman review

first_imgThere’s a moment in The Sopranos, another Mafia-infused mortality epic, in which Tony Soprano attempts to remind his dementia-stricken uncle of who he once was. “You and my dad, you two ran North Jersey,” he tells him. “Hmm, well that’s nice,” replies a placid Uncle Junior, oblivious to the long life that led up to this point. It is a similar sense of melancholy and futility that saturates The Irishman, a fatalistic behemoth of a film from Martin Scorsese that paints a bleak picture of Mob life.Adapted from Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses and scripted by Steven Zaillian, The Irishman tracks the life of the titular mafioso Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro), centring on his involvement with the disappearance of union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The film’s scale is immense, spanning roughly fifty years and clocking in a run time of 3.5 hours. One potential pitfall with this scale is making actors in their mid-seventies look half that age. But the de-ageing technology here is exceptional. It’s not unnoticeable, particularly if you’re looking for it, but after a few minutes you forget that the actors have even been digitally altered at all.The three poster-boys for the film deliver flawless performances. Most of the comedy comes from Pacino’s expressive Hoffa, and his performance as the Mafia-adjacent Teamster makes you pine for a box-set of Pacino-Scorsese collaborations that don’t exist, this being the first time they’ve worked together. Joe Pesci’s retirement-busting turn as Russell Bufalino is exquisite, emanating a quiet menace throughout. But it’s De Niro who takes the spotlight, putting in one of his finest and most sensitive performances to date. He’s no stranger to gangster roles, but this one is more subdued and pensive than usual. There are also impressive performances by actors in supporting roles, including Stephen Graham, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano, and Bobby Cannavale.There’s a sense of dread pervading every scene of The Irishman. This is often the case with crime dramas, the frequent moral being ‘crime doesn’t pay,’ but here there is no glamorous lifestyle to offset the inevitable retribution. Mob business is sad and mournful, violence is quick and final. Often, when an ancillary character is introduced, the action pauses and an expiry date is stamped on them, telling us how and when they’ll die. And as the decades relentlessly march on over the course of the film’s run time, these dates quickly come and go.The Irishman is a masterpiece of storytelling and Scorsese’s direction is bolstered by a thoughtful and well-paced script, Rodrigo Prieto’s understated but quietly beautiful cinematography, and pitch-perfect editing by Scorsese’s longtime collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker. Ultimately, it is a film about isolation and regret. It asks familiar questions about the price of immorality, but provides a much more vulnerable answer than we’ve seen before. “I heard you paint houses,” Jimmy Hoffa says to Frank Sheeran in their first conversation. He certainly does, but why?Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Joe Pesci, Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale Director: Martin Scorsese Writer: Steven Zaillian Rating: 15 Duration: 209 minutes Released by: Netflix Release date: 8th November (Cinemas) 27th November (Netflix)last_img read more

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