Pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink Genetics say they are increasing their efforts to make Ebola vaccines. Reuters reports:
Even under the best conditions, if the experimental vaccines are proven to be safe and confer protection in clinical trials, a significant number of doses will not be available until late in the first quarter of 2015, the WHO said.
GSK and NewLink are conducting phase 1 trials in healthy volunteers currently or soon in more than 10 sites in Africa, Europe and North America, the WHO said in a statement after hosting a two-day meeting of 70 experts.
Initial safety data was expected by year-end, with phase II trials early next year to generate more data.
“Both companies are working to augment their manufacturing capacity. The goal is a very significant increase in scale during the first half of 2015,” the U.N. agency said.
“The next step is to make these vaccines available as soon as possible – and in sufficient quantities – to protect critical frontline workers and to make a difference in the epidemic’s future evolution,” it said.
At least 3,091 people have died from Ebola in the worst outbreak on record of the haemorrhagic disease that has been ravaging Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa.
More than 6,500 cases have been diagnosed, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has warned that the number of infections could rise to up to 1.4 million people by early next year without a massive global intervention to contain the virus.
Spotlight on PSI
PSI president and CEO Karl Hofmann and ambassador Ashley Judd describe how the current Ebola crisis illustrates the potential of an improved health work force, for CNN. They write:
The global response to Ebola presents an important moment to talk about what it will take to recruit, train and retain qualified health workers for the regions that need them most. Recently, the United Nations General Assembly set the global health agenda through 2030. The goals are ambitious and we have the chance to incorporate these pressing issues into a larger world view.
Recruitment, training and retention of health workers doesn’t fit neatly into sound bites and it doesn’t grab headlines, but a shift in thinking has the potential to be far more effective at saving lives. According to the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, 7.6 million children dying annually from pneumonia and diarrheal disease could be saved by already proven interventions that simply need health workers to deliver them. The same can be said of the 358,000 women still dying in childbirth and the 1.3 million people losing their lives to tuberculosis.
This evolution requires a paradigm shift that looks like a play from the corporate playbook: mergers of nonprofit organizations, a consolidation of splintered initiatives and a unified message from the many health coalitions about the need to build stronger health systems and invest in health workers. We’ll also need strong leadership from health ministries and streamlined funding among foundations, corporations and donor governments.
Global Health and Development Beat
Five people are being infected with Ebola every hour in Sierra Leone and demand for treatment beds is far outstripping supply, the Save the Children warned.
Britain and Sierra Leone are appealing for more help to slow the biggest ever Ebola outbreak — and are proposing a new type of clinic to do that.
Britain must set up a program to tackle female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone, where the practice is seen as a prerequisite for marriage and even used as a political tool, a parliamentary committee said.
Scientists in East Africa are concerned over the rising number of cases of kala-azar, a parasitic disease spread by sandfly bites, among people living with HIV.
Controversy is brewing in Taraba State, North-Central Nigeria, following reported outbreak of measles and cholera believed to have killed 50 children in a refugee camp, reports the Premium Times.
The government of Liberia and public health care workers across the country reached an understanding about the total amount that the health workers would receive while engaged in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.
A Swiss Red Cross worker died when shells burst through the heart of Ukraine’s main pro-Russian stronghold for the first time since the foes struck a September 5 truce aimed at ending Europe’s worst crisis in decades.
Airlines and airports handling travel to countries worst hit by the Ebola epidemic are trying to prove that flying to West Africa is safe, following concerns that the first case diagnosed in the United States could curtail worldwide services.
Buzzing in the Blogs
Beth Skwarecki on the promising present of IUDs following recommendation by US pediatricians that IUDs and implants should be first-line choices for birth control. She writes in the PLoS blog:
But still, old-fashioned attitudes are a major barrier, among both patients and providers. Take this op-ed from a doctor on Fox News. He says that while as an obstetrician he understands that IUDs are a great choice, as a father he would never recommend one to his teenage daughter. Why? He brings up issues from the bad old days, and neglects to consider that the risks of modern IUDs are far less than the risks that accompany pregnancy.
What does he recommend instead? Abstinence. In case the flaw in his logic isn’t clear, here is what the AAP’s report says about this method, which should be 100% effective with “perfect use” (compare to 99.95% for implants and 99.8% for IUDs, rates that are nearly identical for typical and perfect use in these methods):
…existing data suggest that the [“typical use”] effectiveness of abstinence for pregnancy and STI prevention over extended periods of time is likely low. For example, among adolescents reporting virginity pledges in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, at 6-year follow-up (wave 3), 88% had engaged in sexual intercourse (most premarital), and 5% were infected with STIs.
They go on to recommend that providers check in with the patient at each visit to ask if they still intend to remain abstinent, and to make sure that they understand the other options available. (This includes gay and lesbian teens, because some will occasionally have opposite-sex partners.) It’s a smart attitude for doctors, and it would be a smart attitude for parents to adopt, too.
The AAP report devotes several pages to the minefield of confidentiality and consent, noting that girls are better about using contraceptives when they don’t have to explain it to their parents, but insurance billing, among other things, makes this difficult.
After all, the age when a person starts having sex, and the age when they are ready to be a parent, are typically many years apart—no matter what their old-fashioned father thinks.
12:00 PM – Harnessing the Power of Markets to Tackle Global Poverty: A Conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz – AEI
3:00 PM – From Copenhagen to Paris: Emerging Economies and the Challenges of Climate Change Diplomacy – Georgetown University
Wednesday – 8 October
10:00 AM – Turning the Tide for Girls and Young Women: How to Achieve an AIDS-Free Future – Kaiser Family Foundation and Population Council
Friday – 17 October
8:30 AM – Ensuring Equity for NCDs in Women’s Health Throughout the Life Course – FHI 360
By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy
Have a news or story tip? Email us at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: Opinions presented in this email do not necessarily reflect the views of PSI.