• New vaccines center to protect U.K. from pandemic threats

    The U.K.’s first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC represents a major commercial opportunity and also a new front line in the nation’s defense against global pandemic threats. To be up and running by 2022, the VMIC addresses the U.K.’s structural gap in late-stage vaccine manufacturing process development. It will allow development and manufacture of vaccines for clinical trials and at moderate scale for emergency preparedness for epidemic threats to the U.K. population.

  • Ebola cases spike as WHO warns of possible reintroduction

    The other day the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recorded 13 new Ebola cases in its daily update. Six of the new cases are in Butembo, three in Oicha, and two each in Beni and Katwa. The outbreak totals now stand at 471 cases, of which 423 are confirmed and 48 are probable; 273 people have died. And the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that it is concerned about reintroduction of the virus into the outbreak region.

  • DRC Ebola total climbs to 444 with cases in several areas

    Over the weekend and through today, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported 16 new Ebola cases in several locations in and around the main hot spots. The latest developments lift the overall outbreak total to 444 cases, including 396 confirmed and 48 probable cases. The fatality count has reached 260 deaths.

  • National security in the Fourth National Climate Assessment

    NCA4 vol. 2: “Climate change presents added risks to interconnected systems that are already exposed to a range of stressors such as aging and deteriorating infrastructure, land-use changes, and population growth. Extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems, including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security. The full extent of climate change risks to interconnected systems, many of which span regional and national boundaries, is often greater than the sum of risks to individual sectors.”

  • U.S. gov.’s climate assessment: U.S. already suffering severe consequences of climate change

    The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4)—a quadrennial report mandated by Congress since 1990—was released Friday. Thirteen federal agencies develop the NCA using the best available science to help the nation “understand, assess, predict and respond to” climate change. The 1,500-page report examines the climate and economic impacts U.S. residents could expect if drastic action is not taken to address climate change. The consequences of global warming for the U.S. economy, infrastructure, food production, water, and public health are already severe, as flooding, droughts, wildfires, rain storms, and hurricanes intensify. Unless warming is arrested, to consequences are only going to get worse.

  • Quick, precise method for detecting chemical warfare agents

    Sarin is a man-made nerve agent that can spread as a gas or liquid. According to the Center for Disease control, exposure to large doses will over-stimulate glands and muscles, and can lead to loss of consciousness or respiratory failure. Even small doses can cause a long list of distressing and dangerous symptoms. “Low-level nerve agent exposure leads to ambiguous signs and symptoms that cannot be easily discriminated from other conditions, which may result in a delay in treatment and permanent damage,” says an expert. “If trace amounts can be detected quickly, you can prevent permanent damage to human health.”

  • Wildfire smoke is becoming a nationwide health threat

    The impacts of recent forest fires in California reach well beyond the burned areas. Smoke from the Camp Fire created hazardous air quality conditions in San Francisco, more than 170 miles to the southwest – but it didn’t stop there. Cross-country winds carried it across the United States, creating hazy conditions in locations as far east as Philadelphia. As an air pollution exposure scientist, I worry about the extreme levels of air pollution that rise from these fires and affect many people across great distances.

  • E coli probe prompts CDC warning to avoid all romaine

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday warned consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce and for retailers and restaurants not to sell or serve it, as US and Canadian officials investigate an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak.

  • Firearm deaths, injuries among children

    Nearly 28,000 American children and teens have died because of firearms in the past decade – second only to the 44,800 who died in motor vehicle collisions. But while the number of young people who die each year from car and truck crashes has fallen, it’s stayed about the same for guns.

  • An information “echo chamber” impedes flu vaccination for children

    Parents who decline to get their child vaccinated against the flu may be exposed to a limited range of information, a new national poll suggests. And depending on which sources parents turn to the most, inaccurate information may influence their decision about flu vaccine for their child.

  • The counties where the anti-vaccine movement thrives in the U.S.

    As a pediatrician-scientist who develops new vaccines for neglected diseases, I followed the emergence of doubt over vaccine safety in the general public. Ultimately, in scientific circles, any debate ended when an overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrated there was no association between vaccines and autism. In Texas, however, the anti-vaccine movement is aggressive, well-organized and politically engaged. There are now at least 57,000 Texas schoolchildren being exempted from their vaccines for nonmedical reasons, about a 20-fold rise since 2003. I say “at least” because there is no data on the more than 300,000 homeschooled kids.

  • Vaccination myths must be debunked: Experts

    An analysis of anti-vaccine witness statements presented during the Texas Legislature’s 2017 session revealed recurring misconceptions that need to be challenged, according to an experts. The experts say that there are five recurring misconceptions about vaccines: that they are ineffective; herd immunity is a myth; vaccines “shed” and cause the spread of disease; the impacts of vaccine-preventable diseases are minor; and vaccine-exempt children are not spreading disease. “Each of these myths is inaccurate and unscientific,” the experts say.

  • U.S. doctors slam NRA for telling them to “stay in their lane”

    The NRA told U.S. physicians to “stay in their lane” after a medical association recommended steps for reducing gun violence. Some U.S. doctors responded with graphic images of their attempts to treat gunshot victims.

  • More people are getting bigger, requiring more food

    Food demand is growing as people get bigger. Feeding a population of 9 billion in 2050 will require much more food than previously calculated. The number of people on Earth could level off at around nine billion in a few years, compared to just over 7.6 billion now. But an average person in the future will require more food than today. Changes in eating habits, attitudes towards food waste, increases in height and body mass, and demographic transitions are some of the reasons.

  • Severe Caribbean droughts would magnify food insecurity

    Climate change is impacting the Caribbean, with millions facing increasing food insecurity and decreasing freshwater availability as droughts become more likely across the region, according to new research. Since 1950, the Caribbean region has seen a drying trend and scattered multiyear droughts. But the recent Pan-Caribbean drought in 2013-16 was unusually severe and placed 2 million people in danger of food insecurity.