On 3rd November the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) announced the launch of their new campaign, “End Rabies Now”. You can visit the website here, as well as show support by following them on Twitter and Facebook. Rabies is a big focus for us; we can stop human deaths from this horrifying disease, which is why we support GARC and sponsor many of their campaigns and activities.
In addition, the WHO and OIE held two meetings on rabies in Geneva. The first of these, in October, brought together both human and veterinary pharmaceutical companies along with leading rabies experts for a two day brainstorming session. The ideas from this workshop then fed into the main meeting in December which was attended by officials from a number of countries as well as NGOs and donors looking to finally eradicate rabies deaths in humans. In order to ensure capacity of manufacturers to supply the necessary volumes of both human and veterinary vaccines, it was clear that planning and forecasting from countries was essential. The take-home message of the December meeting was that country level campaigns need to be built on five pillars.
As part of the MSD Animal Health commitment to ending rabies, we have strengthened our support of Mission Rabies, as well as extended our activities with GARC. In addition, we are looking at ways to accelerate access to rabies vaccines.
In November, MSD Animal Health announced that they had agreed to acquire Harrisvaccines, a company based in Iowa, USA. By using RNA particle technology, Harrisvaccines have developed novel vaccines against key diseases, including Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea and Avian Influenza (for the latter, winning a large tender with the USDA). They have rapidly expanded over the last 18 months. The acquisition by MSD Animal Health presents new opportunities for both companies, adding to the MSD Animal Health portfolio (including transboundary and emerging diseases) while providing Harrisvaccines with a global reach. Together we can address even more devastating diseases.
At the Global Foot-and-Mouth Research Alliance scientific meeting in Vietnam, MSD Animal Health introduced prizes for the best oral and poster presentations. These were for scientists from endemic countries. Afterwards, one of the winners, Ding Bao Truong, said “personally, receiving the award of best poster encourages me to work more in this domain.” Alasdair King also presented a paper entitled “The Right Option at the Right Time”, which will be covered in depth in a future “In Focus…” section of the newsletter.
The best oral presentations were awarded to Sayeed Jamal, Pakistan, and Nguyen Van Long, Vietnam. The best posters were awarded to Raphael Sallu, Tanzania, and Ding Bao Truong, Vietnam.
As well as the increasing range of the O/Ind-2001 lineage FMD strain which is now found in North Africa, a new strain of A serotype has appeared in the Middle East. Of serious concern is that initial studies at Pirbright indicate that this new strain does not match with any of the main vaccine strains in current use. We are following developments closely and are exploring the best options for dealing with this latest outbreak.
The World Veterinary Vaccine Congress brought together researchers from institutes and pharmaceutical companies, as well as regulators from various countries. A theme was developing faster responses to emerging diseases. With a focus on new technologies, it was clear to all that we need to work together to make the next generation of vaccines accessible and affordable. Alasdair King helped facilitate the workshop sessions on the first day, looking at what was needed to bring improved understanding between all the stakeholders.
The El Niño phenomenon generates suitable environmental conditions for large-scale emergence of mosquito populations, and therefore represents an increased risk of Rift Valley Fever. Modelling indicates that El Niño will continue into 2016.
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