Convening the Emergency Committee for Ebola, Antibiotics as Infrastructure, Vaccine Confidence

Health Security Headlines

See what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including escalating difficulties in Ebola outbreak containment and vaccine confidence plummeting in the Philippines.


WHO Emergency Committee to Meet on Congo’s Ebola Outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) will convene an emergency committee on Wednesday to decide whether Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, the global health body said on Monday. Reuters

Antibiotics May Soon Become Useless. Now What?

Accepting that antibiotics are infrastructure would change our relationship to the drugs, forcing us to recognize that medicine requires long-term planning. It might allow users to guide drug development in ways that a free market won’t allow. And it makes explicit a thing that has always been true, but never really articulated: The continued availability of antibiotics is as fundamental to the health of society as intact roads and reliable electric generation and robust sewage processing. Wired

Ebola Experts from CDC Were Pulled from Outbreak Zone Amid Security Concern

Dr. Pierre Rollin — a fixture of Ebola responses for decades — has been consigned to the capital, Kinshasa, more than 1,000 miles away, where he is advising the ministry of health. Other CDC staffers are helping DRC’s eastern neighbors beef up their health security operations and prepare in other ways in case Ebola spreads across DRC’s borders. Some have been detailed to the World Health Organization’s Geneva headquarters. STAT

Fearful of Swine Fever, France Plans Fence on Belgian Border

France will start putting up fencing along part of its border with Belgium this weekend to prevent wild boars spreading African swine fever, a virulent livestock disease that could disrupt Europe’s large pig industry. Reuters

U.S. Biodefense Strategy is Undermined by Policies on Health Insurance and Immigration

The strategy does not fully acknowledge that once an infectious disease risk emerges, the single best way to contain further spread is to make sure that people exposed to it receive medical care before they infect others. Undocumented immigrants are likely to avoid public health clinics where they may be identified, separated from their families, and deported. STAT

A Simpler Way to Get to the Bottom of Mysterious Illnesses in Poor Countries

Backed by major funders, a group of scientists has created a platform to help the world’s disease detectives. An online platform called IDseq will crunch through any sequencing data that researchers upload, and tell them what’s in their patients. It’s free and based in the cloud, so it should be usable to anyone with an internet connection. The Atlantic


DR Congo: Managing Ebola Virus in War

The current violence in DR Congo has its origins in the refugee crisis that arose from the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and there are now at least 70 armed groups fighting in the eastern region of the country. The Ebola response, led by the Government of DR Congo with support from WHO and other partners, is being carried out in the shadow of this deadly warfare. The Lancet

UN Employee in Eastern Congo Tests Positive for Ebola

A plumber working for the UN’s peacekeeping tested positive for Ebola, the health ministry of DRoC said on Friday. The employee had not been to work for several weeks and tracing of the person’s contacts were immediately initiated. Reuters

Israel Confirms First Imported Monkeypox Case

The imported monkeypox case, which—like two recent imported cases in the United Kingdom—involved a patient who had been in Nigeria, where the virus is endemic. Nigeria has been experiencing a monkeypox outbreak since September 2017, piling up 269 cases, 115 of them lab-confirmed. Reuters

Most States Facing Confirmed or Possible Cases of Polio-Like Illness

CNN reached out to health departments in every state; 48 states responded, plus the District of Columbia. Of those, 30 states said they had cases that were confirmed, suspected or being investigated — including 15 states that said they had confirmed cases in 2018. CNN


FluGen’s Broadly Protective Flu Vaccine Clears Early Human Test, Eyes ‘Challenge’ Study

FluGen recently highlighted new early-phase, in-human results for its novel nasal flu vaccine designed to fight multiple seasons of influenza just as it’s looking to an NIH-sponsored trial in children and a Department of Defense-supported “challenge” study. Fierce Pharma

Vaccinations: Kindergarten Exemptions Reach 2.2%

In a concerning trend, the proportion of US children kindergarten age and younger not receiving recommended childhood vaccines continues to slowly grow, especially in rural areas and in the uninsured, according to new CDC reports. A small but increasing proportion of kids receive no vaccine by age 2, and the median vaccine exemption rate in kindergartners climbed for the third year in a row, to 2.2%. CIDRAP

Vaccine Confidence Plummets in Philippines Following Dengue Vaccine Scare

The Vaccine Confidence Project measured the impact of this crisis, comparing confidence levels in 2015, before the incident, with levels in 2018. The findings reflect a dramatic drop in vaccine confidence from 93% “strongly agreeing” that vaccines are important in 2015 to 32% in 2018. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

A Bacteriophage T4 Nanoparticle-Based Dual Vaccine Against Anthrax and Plague

To develop a phage T4 vaccine against both B. anthracis and Y. pestis, the researchers constructed three recombinants by fusing the anthrax and plague antigens to phage RB69 Soc. The three recombinants were F1mutV-Soc-PA (148 kDa), F1mutV-Soc (66 kDa), and Soc-PA (93 kDa). mBio


The Hijacked Hearse: Dispatches from the Ebola Outbreak In DRC

The daily situation reports can offer a vivid glimpse of a tumultuous, high stakes drama that is playing out almost daily as health workers and safe burial teams seek to win over communities who are deeply mistrustful of their intentions. NPR

DARPA Insect Allies, Dual Use Research of Concern, OPCW Hacking Plot

Global Biodefense News

Abductions and Attacks in Ebola Outbreak Area, African Swine Fever, mRNA Vaccines