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Groups call for pandemic flu vaccine ‘master plan’

first_imgOct 4, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Public health and infectious disease experts today called on the United States to develop a “master plan” for development of pandemic influenza vaccines in order to translate scientific advances more rapidly into improved pandemic preparedness.The recommendation was one of seven pandemic policy suggestions made by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonprofit public health advocacy group, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).”The United States must expand and accelerate research efforts and ensure we rapidly translate scientific breakthroughs into real-world practice to prepare for a possible pandemic,” Kathleen Maletic Neuzil, MD, coauthor of the report, said in a news release. She is chair of the IDSA’s Pandemic Influenza Task Force and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.The two organizations also called for streamlining the licensing process for pandemic flu vaccines, developing a nationwide system to track the use and effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccine, and relieving states of cost-sharing for the nation’s stockpile of antiviral drugs, among other measures.The recommendations are part of a 26-page report, “Pandemic Influenza: The State of the Science,” released by the two groups today. The report discusses the threat posed by H5N1 and other avian influenza viruses and outlines the status of efforts to develop vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic techniques for pandemic flu.”An effective US vaccine research and development strategic program must be much larger in scale than current funding permits, in addition to being multinational in scope,” the report states. It describes current vaccine development efforts as a “patchwork” that may not produce rapid progress.The groups called for a “Pandemic Vaccine Research and Development Master Plan to systemize and greatly enhance the current U.S. and international vaccine research and development strategies, bringing together the knowledge of government and private industry scientists.”The master plan should include an inventory of all relevant issues and all activities already under way, the report says. The plan should state which sectors are responsible for completing each activity, list funding needs, and provide benchmarks for measuring progress.The vaccine effort would require a “substantial” increase in funding, the groups say. But in a news teleconference today, TFAH Executive Director Jeffrey Levi declined to name a figure, saying the plan must be developed before its cost can be estimated.”We recognize that Congress over the last year has invested more than $5 billion toward improving pandemic preparedness,” but that is only a starting point for vaccine development and production, Levi said.In response to questions, Levi said he was uncertain if any legislation would be needed to pave the way for the suggested master plan. In working on HIV and AIDS, he said, “Government found a way to convene the academic community and patients and the private sector to talk about issues and share information without violating intellectual property rights.”Levi and Neuzil were asked if they could say which vaccines now in development are most promising. Neuzil responded that it’s difficult to assess the vaccines, because many vaccine trials have been described only in press releases so far, and even scientific journal articles don’t always give full technical data.”From my perspective it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges, because the data I have on each vaccine are in no way equivalent,” said Neuzil.But what is clear, she said, is that “with H5N1 it’s likely we’ll need more than one dose of vaccine, and we’ll need either a high concentration of antigen or we’ll need an adjuvant” (a general stimulant of immune response).The two groups endorse the US government goal of stockpiling enough doses of antiviral drugs to cover about 25% of the population (81 million treatment courses), but they take issue with the funding mechanism. The federal plan calls for buying 50 million treatment courses, but making the states responsible for buying the other 31 million courses, with a 25% federal subsidy.Levi said the federal government should pay for all 81 million courses. “We need to make sure that every state has the right amount, and not every state is going to be able to afford that,” he said. “We believe this is a federal responsibility, and therefore the federal government should purchase it and stockpile it.”The TFAH-IDSA report also makes the following recommendations:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should implement a nationwide, real-time system to track flu vaccine efficacy, distribution and redistribution, uptake, and impact.The United States should boost surveillance for novel flu viruses by expanding working relationships with other countries, especially in Southeast Asia, through the World Health Organization.The nation should embrace policies to increase seasonal flu vaccination in order to reduce the toll of flu and to stabilize vaccine manufacturing capacity. This should include developing “standardized templates for conducting mass vaccinations and countermeasure distribution.”The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should streamline the licensing process for pandemic vaccines, using a different approach than with season flu vaccines.The FDA should adopt criteria for accepting foreign clinical trial data for registering flu vaccines in the United States.An additional recommendation, listed in a news release but not in the full report, is that Congress pass the proposed Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act to improve public health capabilities and support private-sector innovation.The report was written by Levi and Neuzil with Marlene Cimons, an adjunct journalism professor at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.In preparing the report, they drew on interviews with 14 leading experts on flu, pandemics, and infectious disease, including Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The group also included Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of the CIDRAP Web site.See also:TFAH-IDSA news releasehttp://healthyamericans.org/newsroom/releases/release100406.pdfFull TFAH-IDSA reporthttp://healthyamericans.org/reports/fluscience/FluScience.pdflast_img read more

LIBTELCO Boss Clarifies ‘US$30M’ Acquisition of Novafone

first_imgThe Managing Director of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO), Sebastian Muah, has clarified that the price tag on the transaction between Novafone and Libtelco is US$10.4 million, not US$30 million as it has been reported.Director Muah made the disclosure at the Ministry of Information’s regular Thursday press briefing held on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.He said, “The acquisition of 100 percent shares in Novafone means Libtelco can do what it needs to foster its commercialization and strategies; and it means Novafone continues to run, but with a new management team and direction.”Expanding on the benefits of the agreement, Director Muah said with the acquisition of Novafone, Libtelco will also maintain the current license, which costs US$1 million a year or US$15 million for 15 yearsHe said the value of the remaining cost on the license is about US$12 million.“Novafone has a competitive asset that will allow Libtelco immediate national coverage and provide immediate competition… the manufacture of the core network of Novafone put the replacement value on its equipment with still 10 years remaining.“US$11 million depreciated over the last three years would net to about $8-9 million,” Director Muah said.He said the cost to build over 100 sites for Novafone across the country would cost over US$5 million, including a fully online site without access to network equipment. Libtelco, he said, would spend over 24 months to get access to the network.“Novafone has active subscribers base between 90,000 in a month and 190,000 in a three month period. These subscribers pay on the average US$3-5 per month. Telecom’s valuation takes into account customers. Despite all the challenges, Novafone’s revenue for the last two years exceeded US$4 million,” the Libtelco boss said.He said Libtelco saw an opportunity to acquire the network and use Novafone as the vehicle because Libtelco intends to accelerate the revenue growth, which continues to rise year by year.“Our focus is to increase the operation’s profit margin. Since Novafone was not experiencing losses due to the decline in revenue, it continues to increase in its operational costs. We also saw it as a way to accelerate Libtelco’s market access immediately and not wait for 24 months down the road,” he said.On the impact on the government and Liberians, who are owners and customers, Director Muah said Libtelco’s license extends to 2030 and its equipment lifespan extends to 2026.“For the next ten years, provided we do not divest our plan, the government stands to save over 70 percent of its current budgeted telecom cost, which is right now valued at US$5-7.2 million per year. That’s US$50-72 million in 10 years. It also means the government can now boast of having a national infrastructure to provide the kind of service and system that is required to transform Liberia,” he said.Director Muah said the government will be able to bring online not only emergency systems, but financial systems that would take cash out of people’s hands and make financial transactions traceable.Meanwhile, he said Libtelco, with stringent measures, will be completing the proverbial fiber ring in July this year from operating revenue, and not subsidies or loans.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Arsene Wenger reveals when he will return to football amid PSG links

first_img Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury And following a period of rest, the 68-year-old feels ready to launch into a new role early next year.In an interview with German newspaper Bild, the Frenchman, who won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups with the Gunners, shared details on his highly-anticipated comeback.“I believe that (I will) start again on January 1. I don’t know (where) yet. I feel rested and am ready to work again,” said Wenger. huge blow 2 Tuchel has enjoyed a brilliant start to his PSG career “There are associations, national teams, it could be also (in) Japan.“From my 22 years at Arsenal, I have big experience on different levels. There are enquiries from all over the world.”One of those offers reportedly comes from French champions Paris Saint-Germain, who are keen to make Wenger their new director of football.The former Gunners boss recently admitted he has been impressed by the work of manager Thomas Tuchel amid talks of a possible link-up between the two. Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won REVEALED Wenger is ready to return Arsene Wenger plans to return to football in January after receiving ‘enquiries from all over the world’.The legendary former Arsenal boss has been out of the game since ending his illustrious 22-year Gunners career at the end of last season. Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move ADVICE LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? MONEY 2 RANKED no dice Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade REVEALED BEST OF Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card Speaking after coaching a team in Per Mertesacker’s charity match, Wenger said: “I hold [Tuchel] in high regard. He has adapted very quickly to French football,” Wenger said.“He looks very smart and has a good connection with his players.“His start at PSG has been great. The first impressions are very positive, and I think that’s very important when you come from abroad.“You must have some luck to start well, but the quality is there. There will be some harder matches to come for PSG in the future and the expectations in Paris are very high.“I hope that he can also be successful in the Champions League.”last_img read more