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Mar 11, 2018

Infection forecasts powered by big data

Even though you know it’s a sensible idea, you’re on the fence about whether it would be worth the bother to have this season’s influenza vaccine. But a quick glance at the flu forecast on your phone sets you straight: there’s a warning about a recent spike of cases nearby, so you head to the clinic rather than risk a feverish week in bed. Epidemiologists eagerly anticipate such a future, in which they can track infectious diseases with the same confidence as meteorologists mapping the weather.

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Mar 5, 2018

WHO approves cholera vaccine for use at temperatures high as 40 degree Celsius for up to 14 days

Sanofi Pasteur announced that its affiliate Shantha Biotechnics has received approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Shanchol, its oral cholera vaccine. The vaccine may be kept for single period of time of up to 14 days at temperature of up to 40°C immediately prior to administration, provided the vaccine has not reached its expiry date and vaccine vial monitor has not reached discard point. The approval is of great significance to regions where the vaccine is used, including India, as it eliminates the challenges of maintaining the vaccine cold chain (between +2°C and +8°C to maintain vaccine potency) during transport.

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Mar 2, 2018

How will we know when polio is dead?

‘Smallpox is dead!’ The iconic cover of the WHO’s World Health magazine in 1980 marked the end of a long process. An unprecedented global vaccination campaign was followed by a robust process for declaring the world to be free of smallpox for good. The work of millions of health professionals, immunisation programme managers, and parents ensured that vaccines reached every country of the world. It then fell to a small number of experts, pictured below, to check and check and check again that the virus had truly been vanquished.

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Feb 26, 2018

Australian researchers successfully develop a rotavirus vaccine which could benefit millions of children

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) have developed a rotavirus vaccine that provides earlier protection from dehydrating diarrhoea for infants and young children. Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of child illness and death, and rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea. Globally rotavirus causes approximately 215,000 deaths in children under five years.

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Feb 23, 2018

Why some killer diseases are overlooked

In early 1918, Dr Loring Miner in Haskell, Kansas, found that he was seeing patients nonstop. Sometimes he slept in his buggy while his horse walked home without him. A mysterious new strain of influenza had hit the area. By 1919, this “Spanish flu” had killed tens of millions worldwide. The pandemic (which may have reached Haskell from China) wasn’t simply influenza. Most victims, after catching the flu, probably died of bacterial pneumonia, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US.

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Feb 12, 2018

World must act fast to prevent pandemic diseases – U.N. risk chief

The world must ramp up efforts to prevent huge infectious disease outbreaks – such as flu strains that can jump from animals to humans – which could kill millions of people, the chief of the U.N.’s disaster risk agency said on Saturday.

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Feb 7, 2018

What if we could develop vaccines that prevent poverty?

There’s no doubt that vaccines save lives and deliver amazing health benefits. Since 1990, the number of children around the world who die before their fifth birthday has fallen by more than half, thanks in large part to routine immunization against an array of infectious diseases.

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Jan 24, 2018

“It doesn’t have to be like ripping off a Band-Aid”: Transitioning from paper to digital records

During the 2017 Global Digital Health Forum session on Injecting Digital Technology into Old-School Immunization Systems, Dawn Seymour from PATH discussed the value of electronic immunization registries. Despite the benefits of such registries, including more accurate data, she and her colleagues Sang Dao Dinh and Hieu Tran explained some challenges when transitioning from legacy, paper-based systems in Zambia, Tanzania, and Vietnam to digital versions.

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Jan 19, 2018

Tracking progress to address antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when a microorganism (such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) evolves to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. While the evolution of AMR is a natural and inevitable process, the rate and spread of AMR has been accelerated by the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

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Jan 19, 2018

Zambia says new cases dropping in deadly cholera outbreak

Zambia has struggled to contain one of its deadliest cholera outbreaks in years, sending soldiers into a slum last week to keep order, collaborating with the World Health Organization on a vaccination program and even declaring a week of prayer.

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