• Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response

    If the coronavirus begins to spread in the United States, what would we do? How would the U.S. government respond? Laurie Garrett writes that the answers to these questions “are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure.” She adds: “The next epidemic is now here; we’ll soon know the costs imposed by the Trump administration’s early negligence and present panic.”

  • WHO Declares nCoV Public Health Emergency amid Virus Spread

    The World Health Organization (WHO) director-general on Thursday declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) for China’s novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, based on the nearly unanimous recommendation of its emergency committee. China’s surge of cases continues; India and the Philippines reported their first cases; and a handful of affected countries reported more cases, most of them linked to travel, but a few involving local transmission.

  • Three More Novel Coronavirus Cases Reported in U.S.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Sunday that its testing has confirmed three more Wuhan-linked novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases, two in California and one in Arizona, raising the national total to five.

  • DRC Measles Deaths Top 6,000

    Deaths in a massive measles outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have now topped 6,000, prompting a call from the World Health Organization (WHO) for more funding to curb the spread of the disease.

  • Smallpox Was Declared Eradicated 40 Years Ago This Month, but Worries Remain

    Forty years ago – more precisely, on 9 December 1979 – the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that smallpox had been confirmed as eradicated. A few months later, the World Health Assembly (WHA) officially declared that “the world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox.” Yet, four decades later, two nations — the United States and the Russian Federation — keep stockpiles of the variola virus which causes smallpox. Some scientists and security experts say that the risks of retaining the stockpiles outweigh the benefits.

  • Samoa Has Become a Case Study for “Anti-Vax” Success

    In Samoa, Facebook is the main source of information. Michael Gerson writes that it is thus not surprising that anti-vaccination propaganda, much of it generated in the United States, has arrived through social media and discourages Samoan parents from vaccinating their children. “This type of import has helped turn Samoa into a case study of ‘anti-vax’ success — and increased the demand for tiny coffins decorated with flowers and butterflies,” he writes, adding: “Samoa is a reminder of a pre-vaccine past and the dystopian vision of a post-vaccine future.”

  • Plague Was Around for Millennia Before Epidemics Took Hold – and the Way People Lived Might Be What Protected Them

    One of civilization’s most prolific killers shadowed humans for thousands of years without their knowledge. Sonja Eliason and Bridget Alex write that the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which causes the plague, is thought to be responsible for up to 200 million deaths across human history — more than twice the casualties of World War II. People were contracting and dying from plague at least 3,000 years, but plague epidemics are more recent phenomena. The reason? Human lifestyles that encouraged the spread of the disease.

  • Global Measles Deaths Rise to 140,000; Young Kids Hit Hard

    Last year 140,000 people worldwide died from complications of measles infections, compared to 110,000 measles deaths in 2017. Most of measles-related deaths are in children under the age of 5. Growing measles outbreaks worldwide in 2018 and 2019 paint a picture of vaccination stagnation, the WHO and CDC said. Because measles is so contagious, 95 percent of the population must be immunized to prevent outbreaks. In 2018, the WHO said 86 percent of children globally received the first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70 percent received the second recommended dose.

  • The Real Reason to Panic About China’s Plague Outbreak

    The Chinese government’s response to this month’s outbreak of plague has been marked by misguided emphasis on the wrong things. Laurie Garrett writes that rather than focusing on the germs and their spread, the Chinese government appeared to be more concerned with public relations and the management of public reaction to the disease.

  • Phylogeography of the Second Plague Pandemic Revealed Through Analysis of Historical Yersinia Pestis Genomes

    The second plague pandemic (14th-18th centuries) began with the Black Death in the mid-14th century and continued with lethal outbreaks in and around Europe until the 18th century. The pandemic devastated the European continent, killing up to 60 percent of the population. Where did this strain of Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing bacterium, come from? How did it evolve and expand once it arrived?

  • AI Model Wins Flu Forecasting Challenge

    A probabilistic artificial intelligence computer model developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory provided the most accurate state, national and regional forecasts of the flu in 2018, beating 23 other teams in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FluSight Challenge.

  • “Working in Silos Doesn’t Work for Outbreak Response”: Localizing Social Science Response Efforts in West Africa

    Despite the deployment of new tools, such as vaccines and experimental treatments, to fight the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the contextual complexity has made it extremely challenging for local and international response partners to implement standard Ebola containment strategies. These challenges have contributed both to the growth and spread of the outbreak, and to a very dangerous and dynamic environment for those working in the response. Various international organization supporting the fight against the epidemic say they are committed to design future outbreak response which would be more sensitive to the needs and perspectives of local communities. To support this, social science has been identified as a necessary outbreak ‘discipline’ alongside epidemiology, clinical medicine, microbiology, and public health to help ensure that outbreak response is designed in locally appropriate ways.

  • The Presidential Candidates Are Ignoring One of the World’s Biggest Looming Threats

    Whoever sits in the Oval Office come January 2021, he or she will almost inevitably have to address pandemic disease as a foreign-policy issue. The well-being of Americans in today’s globalized world is inextricably linked to that of people around the globe, while the effects of pandemics are born disproportionately by the least powerful. The next U.S. president needs a proactive strategic initiative, based in global solidarity, to address today’s pandemics, tomorrow’s outbreaks, and the health impacts of climate change.

  • Close-Knit, Vaccine-Reluctant Communities Stoked Measles: CDC

    From 1 January to 1 October of this year, the United States tracked 22 measles outbreaks and 1,249 cases, according to a new overview published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). “Eight outbreaks —defined as three or more related cases — that occurred in underimmunized, close-knit communities accounted for 85 percent of all cases,” the CDC said. And 75 percent of all cases in 2019 were part of outbreaks among Orthodox Jewish populations in New York State and City.

  • Ebola One Year on: The Wins, the Setbacks, and the Way Forward

    The last five years have witnessed the two biggest outbreaks of Ebola, first in West Africa and currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC is no stranger to Ebola and has battled the virus on nine previous occasions since 1976. The current outbreak, for a multitude of socio-political reasons, refuses to give in to efforts by an international team of health care workers, armed with vaccines and treatment regimes, which did not even exist during previous episodes. As the outbreak surpasses its one year mark, the virus has infected over 3000 people and claimed more than 2000 lives.