Archive for March, 2012

Effectiveness of influenza vaccine in aging and older adults

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 (last updated)

Foremost amongst the diseases preventable by vaccination is influenza. Worldwide, influenza virus infection is associated with serious adverse events leading to hospitalization, debilitating complications, and death in elderly individuals. Immunization is considered to be the cornerstone for preventing these adverse health outcomes, and vaccination programs are timed to optimize protection during the annual influenza season. Trivalent inactivated influenza virus vaccines are believed to be both effective and cost-saving; however, in spite of widespread influenza vaccination programs, rates of hospitalization for acute respiratory illness and cardiovascular diseases have been increasing in this population during recent annual influenza seasons. From meta-analyses summarizing estimates of influenza vaccine effectiveness from available observational clinical studies, this review aims to examine how effective current influenza vaccine strategies are in the aging and older adult population and to analyze which are the most important biases that interfere with measurements of influenza vaccine effectiveness. Furthermore, consideration is given to strategies that should be adopted in order to optimize influenza vaccine effectiveness in the face of immune exhaustion.

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Clinical Interventions in Aging

Immunize on time

Monday, March 19th, 2012 (last updated)

The recent trend of delaying or skipping vaccines has put children across the country at risk for diseases like Hib, whooping cough and measles. Immunizing your child on time, every time is the right choice.

Every child by two

Vaccination can’t protect babies against stupidity

Sunday, March 18th, 2012 (last updated)

There isn’t enough room on this website to list all the things I don’t know. There’s not even enough room in Wikipedia, which – if it were an actual book – would take you 123 years to read.
Recently, though, there’s been an explosion of people with a wildly inflated sense of their own intelligence. Suddenly, everyone’s an expert.
Me, not so much. I understand how little I know about lots of things. For example, I know less about science than scientists. I know less about medicine than doctors. I know less about tax than my accountant, less about cooking than Donna Hay and less about animals than Bondi Vet.
There’s no shortage of genuine experts who have degrees, qualifications and years of experience in their fields. Having access to Google does not make you an expert, nor does having a website or watching a YouTube video. These things simply make you someone with an internet connection.
“Everyone’s an expert today,” confirms social researcher Neer Kornntsok, “partly because we feel we need to be. We receive kudos for proclaiming our definitive knowledge to others and we compete to be the first to share facts, articles and videos.”
But reading some articles doesn’t put you on par with a scientist and here’s where it canbecome dangerous.
A few years ago, I worked with a lovely guy who had left school at 16. When his wife had their first child, he “did his research” and they decided not to vaccinate their daughter.
At the time, everyone around him insisted it was safe (and vital) but he was adamant. “I’ve read a lot about this and I watched this amazing video,” he insisted, “Vaccinations are just a way for big companies and the government to make money.”
Where do you start arguing the extreme illogic of that? Not here; I’d need more space and a wheelie bin full of rescue remedy.
While I accept my former co-worker was a thoughtful person who meant well, I’m floored by the extraordinary assumption that he knew better than every scientist in the world _ not to mention Bill and Melinda Gates who are spending hundreds of millions of their own dollars funding vaccination programs in third-world countries to eradicate killer diseases such as  malaria.
What on earth could make a civilian believe his Google “research” is superior to decades of science?Is it arrogance?
“The internet has made expertise a mouse click away,” says Korn.”And a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
“Just ask any GP who has to contend with self-diagnosing patients, determined they can identify their prognosis and treatment. They address them more as colleagues than patients because they place their internet search on par with the doctor’s years of expertise.”
Doctors really do live this every day. One of my friends who is a medical specialist says: “You find yourself getting into these exhausting debates with patients who insist they’ve read something that goes against what you’re telling them.
“Unless you’re highly experienced, it can be extremely difficult to judge the credibility of the information you find online.”
Which brings me to the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) which, despite its official-sounding name, is  in fact a group of civilian self-styled “experts” who campaign vigorously, and at times misleadingly (according to findings by the Health Care Complaints Commission), against vaccination, both on their website and in the free talks they give around Australia, sometimes to expectant parents at pre-natal classes.
While publicly peddling its anti-vaccination message, the AVN cleverly makes it sound like there are “two sides” to the vaccination debate.
In fact there aren’t two sides, and there is no debate.
On one hand there is science and there is no other hand.
Because no link between vaccination and autism has ever been found. None. Ever.
What has been conclusively proven is that while they are not 100 per cent perfect, vaccines are the best and only way to protect babies and children from diseases like whooping cough that can kill them.
And the personal choice argument? Well, it’s a bit like arguing that driving your car drunk is a personal choice.
You see, the lives of babies too young to be vaccinated depend on herd immunity in the rest of the community.
So the choice made by that guy I worked with didn’t just affect his family. His well-intentioned yet ill-informed decision has the potential to harm my family. And yours.
Watching (or even producing) a YouTube video with some cherry-picked statistics set to rousing orchestral music is not the same as having a university degree or having your research findings peer-reviewed.
I’m baffled by this growing sense that everyone has the right _ indeed the obligation _  to challenge facts that have been established scientifically, independently and repeatedly over years, even decades.
“Do your research!” is the common faux clarion call of so-called “experts”.
These exhortations are usually accompanied by a helpfullist of links to skewed, scientifically baseless articles that back up their claims. It’s easy to mislead people with random graphs and alarmist statements.
I’m certainly not suggesting becoming a flock of sheep or suspending critical thought.
But I don’t need to “do my research” before I vaccinate. Or before I accept  the Earth is round and that gravity exists. Scientists far smarter than I am  have already done that research and the verdict is unanimous, thanks.

Mia Freedman – The Sunday Telegraph

Preventing diarrhoea deaths – a new approach for Zambia & beyond

Sunday, March 18th, 2012 (last updated)

Diarrhoea causes more deaths of young children in sub-Saharan Africa than AIDS, malaria and measles combined, yet its treatment still attracts relatively little investment.
Working with our local partner, the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), and the Ministry of Health, we will strengthen the Zambian health system. Our immediate goal is to reduce the 15,000 diarrhoea-related deaths a year among children under the age of five. Up to one in three of these deaths is due to rotavirus, an easily transmitted infection for which there is now an effective vaccine.
Over 700,000 infants will be vaccinated against rotavirus by 2015.
560 health workers will be trained in diarrhoea treatment by early 2014.
Our mission in Zambia is to support and develop an integrated anti-diarrhoea approach for Africa that includes three elements: infant vaccination, better medical treatment and prevention. ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) believes this model could be expanded throughout Sub Saharan Africa to save hundreds of thousands of lives.


Gates Foundation grants $ 220 million to develop tuberculosis vaccine

Friday, March 16th, 2012 (last updated)

The Gates Foundation has announced a $220-million grant to a US-based not-for-profit biotech organisation to develop modern vaccines to combat TB against the backdrop of a significant increase in drug-resistant strains.
The World Health Organisation estimates the global economic burden of TB at nearly $12 billion a year, with India and China together accounting for more than half the global economic toll.
One of the world’s largest not-for-profit biotechs, Aeras announced it is recipient of a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of up to $220 million over five years, placing it at the forefront of a global scientific initiative aimed at developing safe, effective vaccines against tuberculosis, a disease that infects two billion people worldwide.
“This infusion of funding must be seen as a global call to action in response to one of the world’s deadliest diseases,” said Mr Jim Connolly, President and CEO of Aeras.
“It will allow Aeras to expand upon existing partnerships in Europe, Africa, China, and around the world, and to build new partnerships that will accelerate the development of safe and effective vaccines. But the scientific challenges are immense, and the threat is global. Without support for this search for new vaccines from every quarter, we will never eliminate TB as a global health threat,” he said.
Globally, the TB vaccine field estimates it will need in excess of $1 billion over the next five years to support worldwide efforts against a disease so complex it is expected to require more than one vaccine to address geographic variations in the strains, different stages of disease, and a variety of target populations.
“There is an urgent need for the global community to support the full range of tools to eliminate tuberculosis, but the development of TB vaccines that can prevent men, women and children from developing the disease would be the single greatest advance in the global fight against TB,” said Mr Trevor Mundel, president of the Global Health Programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Hindu Business Line & Aeras

Measles : the most contagious infectious disease !

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 (last updated)

The more people get vaccinated, the better the public is protected. It is estimated that if 95% of young people get vaccinated, we will beat the disease!

Agence de la Santé et des Services Sociaux de Montréal (ASSSM)

Adult vaccines: a grown up thing to do

Monday, March 12th, 2012 (last updated)

The world around us is filled with tiny microorganisms called microbes. Most of them are harmless and many are even beneficial to us, but some microbes—called pathogens—are capable of making us sick. Our skin and mucous membranes keep a lot of these pathogens out while our immune system is responsible for fighting off those that get inside us. The human immune system has been ridding our bodies of pathogens for millions of years, but only in the last century have scientists learned enough to help give us an additional edge. Modern medicine has given us tools to aid our immune system in the fight against pathogens. Drugs like antibiotics help eliminate pathogens after they make us sick, but only vaccines are able to prepare our immune system so that many pathogens never make us sick in the first place. Despite their benefits, many people do not know how vaccines work, making some people uncomfortable and even mistrustful of vaccination. Also, many people may not realize that vaccines are not just for children; adults can benefit too! This document will tell you more about how vaccines work, why they are important, and how they can protect adults. Take some time and look it over — your immune system will thank you.

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The American Academy of Microbiology

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease trial vaccine 100% successful

Monday, March 12th, 2012 (last updated)

The prospect of a vaccine for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) received a boost today when every participant in a vaccine trial had “significantly increased enterovirus 71 immune responses”, according to its developer, Inviragen.

The trial INV21 vaccine, produced by Inviragen in collaboration with the Singapore National University Health System and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, was successfully administered to healthy adults in a placebo-controlled, randomised Phase 1 trial, Inviragen said in a press release today. Full data will likely be presented later this year, while further trials are in the pipeline.

“Our two-dose INV21 vaccine induced neutralising antibody responses in all of the immunised adults in this Phase 1 trial and we look forward to exploring the vaccine’s safety and immunogenicity in children in future clinical trials later this year,” daid Dr Joseph Santangelo, chief operating officer of Inviragen, which has offices in the United States and Singapore.

“The results of this first INV21 clinical trial are very promising. We look forward to continued collaboration on HFMD research and carrying out large scale trials in partnership with Inviragen, to bring successful vaccine candidates such as INV21 closer to clinical use, to help protect vulnerable children in this part of the world,” said clinical trial principal investigator Dr Paul Tambyah.

“HFMD is a significant public health problem in East Asia, including Singapore,” added the associate professor of the Department of Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University Singapore and senior consultant, Division of Infectious Diseases at the National University Hospital.

Approximately 2 million children are affected by HFMD every year. In the first nine weeks of this year, there were 5,568 cases of HFMD in Singapore, compared to 1,908 during the same period last year – meaning the disease has shot past the “epidemic” threshold as defined by the Ministry of Health. No vaccines currently exist for HFMD.

Today Online

Boys & HPV vaccine

Monday, March 12th, 2012 (last updated)

In 2006 the HPV vaccine was recommended for young girls. In February of 2012, it was extended to boys.

Lee Memorial Health System

Cuba unveils new AIDS vaccine

Friday, March 9th, 2012 (last updated)

A new Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) vaccine, Teravac-HIV-1, which has successfully been tested on mice and set to be tried out on humans, has been unveiled in Cuba.
According to the head of the biotech research team that designed the vaccine, Enrique Iglesias, Tervac-HIV-1 was developed from a recombinant protein with virus-like particles, which stimulate an immune response.

He noted that the vaccine has been presented to more than 600 scientists from 38 countries attending the 24th International Biotech Congress in the country.

Mr. Iglesias disclosed that the testing which will initially involve a small and controlled group of AIDS patients in the primary stages of the disease only represents a clinical trial, thus expectations should not go beyond that.
In his words, “The trials are to measure the safety of the vaccine…developing a possible vaccine requires many years of laboratory research before discovering something that can be tested on humans.”

About 15,400 registered AIDS patients live in Cuba currently, making it one of the countries with the lowest rate of infection worldwide.
Cuban health officials say its government invests more than $200 million a year on prevention programs and medical care for AIDS patients.