The new $12 million Ending the Pandemic Threat: A Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lucy and Larry Page is an important and necessary step intended to spark innovative ideas toward finding a game-changing solution to end the threat of flu.

To find a game changing, universal solution to all these challenges, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Page Family are launching the “Universal Influenza Vaccine Development Grand Challenge” during the centenary year of the 1918 flu pandemic. The goal of this Grand Challenge is to identify novel, transformative concepts that will lead to development of universal influenza vaccines offering protection from morbidity and mortality caused by all subtypes of circulating and emerging (drifted and shifted) Influenza A subtype viruses and Influenza B lineage viruses for at least three to five years. It is envisaged that such a universal influenza vaccine would address the threat from both seasonal and pandemic influenza, thus alleviating the need for annual seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns, averting significant global morbidity and mortality, and better preparing the world for the next influenza pandemic.

Published in Global initiatives
Friday, 30 March 2018 06:47

First steps taken for vaccine pills

UK scientists have taken the first steps towards creating new vaccine treatments in pill form.

The Cardiff team has made a prototype oral flu vaccine, which unlike standard inoculations does not need to be stored in a fridge or freezer.

They hope it could pave the way for needle-free inoculations for lots of different diseases that would be easier to use in developing countries.

However, they said more work was needed before it could be tested in people.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 04:59

Infection forecasts powered by big data

Even though you know it’s a sensible idea, you’re on the fence about whether it would be worth the bother to have this season’s influenza vaccine. But a quick glance at the flu forecast on your phone sets you straight: there’s a warning about a recent spike of cases nearby, so you head to the clinic rather than risk a feverish week in bed. Epidemiologists eagerly anticipate such a future, in which they can track infectious diseases with the same confidence as meteorologists mapping the weather. But those making predictions of this type face a serious problem. “There is just not a lot of observational data in the disease world,” says Cécile Viboud, an epidemiologist at the US National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center in Bethesda, Maryland. “It’s several orders of magnitude less than what we have in other fields.”

Published in Service delivery  
Monday, 05 March 2018 04:10

Five myths about outbreaks

One hundred years ago, Pvt. Albert Mitchell, an Army mess cook stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., received the first diagnosis of a new strain of influenza that eventually infected approximately 500 million people across the globe — about one-third of the world’s population — and led to at least 50 million deaths, far more than the lives lost in the still-raging World War I . The Spanish flu pandemic brought new urgency to the quest to comprehend infectious diseases and the way they work, but the subject is still beset by scientific challenges and popular misunderstandings. Here are five of the most tenacious.

Published in Service delivery  

Health authorities in Japan on Friday (February 23) approved a new flu medication, called baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), that aims to stop the virus within one day, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The drug works by blocking the flu virus’s ability to use the host cell for replication. That’s a different mechanism from oseltamivir (Tamiflu), an anti-influenza medication available in the U.S. that works by blocking the virus’s neuraminidase enzyme, preventing its escape from the host cell.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018 08:25

10 threats to global health in 2018

From Mosul to Cox’s Bazar, cholera to plague, 2017 was full of health emergencies caused by conflict, natural disasters and disease outbreaks. But 2018 could be even worse if we don’t prepare, prevent and respond in time. The World Health Organization continues to tackle disease outbreaks and other health emergencies worldwide in 2018, but operations are underfunded and needs continue to grow. These are just some of the threats to global health that we are likely to face. Many of these crises are entirely preventable, and often man-made.

Published in Announcements

Google's venture arm is backing a private British company which is currently developing a vaccine that has the potential to fight all types of flu.

The company has raised $27 million (27 million pounds) from investors including GV, the venture capital arm of Google, according to Reuters.

Vaccitech, a company founded by scientists at Oxford University's Jenner Institute, said that the funding would put its vaccine through a two-year clinical trial involving 2,000 patients. Their new vaccine works by using proteins at the core of the flu virus which remain stable.

The vaccine also stimulates T-cells rather than antibodies.

Last fall some people in the know about influenza science got picky when it came time to get their flu shots.

They didn’t want to roll up their sleeve for any old vaccine on offer at their doctor’s office or workplace clinic. They sought specific products, the ones licensed for older adults that contain a performance-boosting compound called an adjuvant or more notably one of the two brands of vaccine not made — as most flu vaccines are — in eggs.

“My colleagues who are over age 65, everybody wanted basically the Fluad or the Protein Sciences vaccine, Flublok,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. (Fluad, made by Seqirus, contains an adjuvant; Flublok is produced in insect cells.)