Apr 24, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – In an effort to improve developing countries’ access to potential pandemic influenza vaccines, the WHO (World Health Organization) said today it is awarding grants to six countries to help them develop the capacity to make flu vaccine.The grants of up to $2.5 million each will go to three countries hit hard by H5N1 avian flu—Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand—plus Brazil, Mexico, and India, the WHO said. The money will come from $10 million supplied by the United States and $8 million from Japan.The announcement comes on the eve of a WHO-sponsored conference on ways to provide developing countries with access to pandemic vaccines. The issue came to the fore in February, when Indonesia revealed it had stopped sending H5N1 virus samples to the WHO, in order to protest use of the samples by drug companies to make vaccines priced beyond the country’s reach.In late March, following a meeting with the WHO, Indonesia promised to resume sending the samples in return for a WHO pledge to develop new guidelines for sample sharing and an interim promise not to share samples with drug companies without the source country’s approval. However, the WHO has not yet reported receiving any samples.In announcing the grants today, Dr. David Heymann, the WHO’s assistant director-general for communicable diseases, said, “It is imperative that the global community works collectively to ensure more equitable access to a vaccine and other health measures in the event of an influenza pandemic. We all have a responsibility to protect global health security.”With flu vaccine production facilities, countries will be equipped to protect their people from seasonal flu, said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research. And if a pandemic emerges, the facilities can be converted to make a vaccine based on the pandemic strain, she said.It will take at least 3 to 5 years for the six countries to start producing vaccine, the WHO said. Until then, they will need help to ensure they can obtain vaccines.The meeting scheduled tomorrow will include officials from countries with human H5N1 cases, donor countries, and vaccine manufacturers in developed and developing countries.The WHO had announced Mar 22 that six projects to establish flu vaccine production facilities in developing countries were in the final approval stage, but the countries were not named at that point.See also:Mar 27 CIDRAP News story “WHO, Indonesia reach accord on virus sharing”
Indianapolis, In. — The Indiana Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is instructing clients to immediately stop using divided plates that illustrate the recommended distribution of the four food groups following reports that two plates caught fire while in the microwave. No injuries have been reported.The plates have been distributed through Indiana WIC clinics since June. The program was notified of the two incidents on Nov. 8 and immediately instructed WIC clinics in Indiana to halt distribution of the plates. WIC clients are being notified of the potential hazard.“The safety of Indiana WIC clients is our top priority,” said Eldon Whetstone, assistant commissioner for the Health and Human Services Commission at the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), which administers the Indiana WIC program. “We urge all clients to return these plates to their WIC clinic or destroy them immediately.”The plates contain dividers that include labels showing the portion sizes for protein, grains, vegetables and fruits and are labeled as being safe for microwave use. Approximately 8,600 plates were sent to more than three dozen Indiana WIC agencies.Whetstone said not all plates are impacted but that the vendor has determined that the labels on the defective plates contained aluminum, which is not safe for use in microwaves.
Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell will avoid reaching for the panic button when he competes in this week’s Alstom Open de France. McDowell did win the Volvo World Match Play crown in Bulgari, but his missed cut in last week’s Irish Open was the fifth in his last six strokeplay events and left him spending the weekend at Carton House on the practice range, alongside compatriot Rory McIlroy, looking for some form ahead of the upcoming Open Championship. “Obviously that Volvo World Match Play offsets some really average golf for me I suppose,” McDowell admitted in his pre-tournament press conference at Le Golf National. “I feel like I went into the US Open a bit under golfed to be honest with you; (with) a few missed cuts here and there and playing a slightly reduced schedule this year.” Press Association He added: “I really just haven’t had enough course time the last couple of months and that was highlighted at the US Open – he shot rounds of 76 and 77 at Merion – and it was highlighted a little bit last week in Ireland, missing by one there. “I thought I had snuck in for the weekend and I could have done with a couple of extra rounds of golf under my belt, but used the weekend constructively, hit a lot of balls. “I feel like, thankfully, I’ve got a couple of victories under the belt this year to offset maybe the panic button being hit. It is a good thing to be coming into this run of golf fresh I suppose, I’ve got a lot of golf coming up here the next few months. “The game’s not in terrible shape to be honest with you. It’s been a fine line here and there. The motivation’s there and I’m feeling hungry and ready to go this summer. “I’ve worked very hard the last 10 days or so and I’ve probably hit as many balls in the last 10 days as I have in a couple of months really. I could do with a weekend here where I compete and play four rounds, get the old juices flowing.” McDowell is one of three players in the world’s top 10 competing in Paris, the world number nine being joined by eighth ranked Luke Donald and number five Matt Kuchar.