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Zika Virus

FDA Research May Help Speed Development of Zika Vaccines and Therapeutics

Zika 3Washington, DC, November 23, 2016 — A new mouse model developed by scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may help in exploring the potential activity of Zika virus vaccines and therapeutics.

Published last week in PLoS Pathogens, is the description of a neonatal mouse model that provides a platform for potentially improving and expediting studies to understand the causes and effects (pathology) of the Zika virus.

The recent spread of the Zika virus and its association with increased rates of neurological disorders and complex congenital syndromes, such as microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barré Syndrome in adults, has created an urgent need for animal models to examine the virus’ pathology. Continue reading

CDC Announces Supplemental Funding Opportunity for Continued Zika Response in 2017

CDC LogoAtlanta, GA, October 23, 2016 — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is announcing the availability of about $70 million in supplemental funding to states, cities, and territories to support continued efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus.

The funding, distributed through CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) Cooperative Agreement, will further support activities to protect the health of Americans, especially pregnant women, including epidemiologic surveillance and investigation, improving mosquito control and monitoring, and strengthening laboratory capacity.

Funding also will support participation in the US Zika Pregnancy Registry to monitor pregnant women with Zika and their infants. Continue reading

Congress Passes Spending Bill Frees Up $1.1 Billion to Fight Zika

Capitol Dome flag faveWashington, DC, September 30, 2016The Wall Street Journal reported that legislation Congress cleared on Wednesday to keep the federal government running will free up $1.1 billion for efforts to research and treat the Zika virus, advance a vaccine and control mosquitoes.

The virus, which is mostly spread by mosquitoes, has infected more than 23,000 people in the U.S. and its territories.

Administration officials have warned that available funds to combat Zika were close to running out. The emergency funding was seen as critical to halting the spread of the virus, whose health risks include serious birth defects, pregnancy problems and a nervous system sickness. Continue reading

Back from Seven-Week Break, Congressional Lawmakers Seek Compromise on Zika Virus Funding

Capitol Building flagWashington, DC, September 8, 2016 — Reuters reports in The New York Times that Congressional lawmakers sought on Wednesday to break a logjam over $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus, with the Senate possibly considering legislation as soon as next week, even as one congressman toted a jar full of mosquitoes to the House floor to condemn congressional inaction.

Brandishing a container full of Florida mosquitoes, Rep. David Jolly (R-Florida) took to the House floor, asking his colleagues, “Can you imagine the fears and anxieties if the mosquitoes were not in this jar?”

“Members of Congress would run down the hall to the physician’s office to be tested,” added Jolly, whose state is the first in the nation with local transmission of the mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Americas.

The potential Senate Zika measure could advance as part of a broader legislative effort to temporarily keep federal agencies operating in the 2017 fiscal year that begins October 1. Continue reading

HHS Awards $ 19.8 Million to Takeda to Accelerate Development of a Zika Vaccine

Zika 3Washington, DC, September 4, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) will provide an initial $19.8 million over the next 18 months to Takeda Vaccines, Inc. of Deerfield, Illinois, a subsidiary of the Takeda Group headquartered in Japan, to develop a Zika vaccine for use in the United States.

Under the contract, ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide funding to complete studies that should enable the company to file an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If the application is approved, the first clinical (human) trials of the vaccine could begin next year. Continue reading

FDA Advises Testing for Zika Virus in All Donated Blood and Blood Components in the U.S.

FDA blueWashington, DC, August 28, 2016 — As a further safety measure against the emerging Zika virus outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) on Friday issued a revised guidance recommending universal testing of donated Whole Blood and blood components for Zika virus in the U.S. and its territories.

“There is still much uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of Zika virus transmission,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.  “At this time, the recommendation for testing the entire blood supply will help ensure that safe blood is available for all individuals who might need transfusion.” Continue reading

As Congress Vacations, Clinton Proposes New Federal Fund to Combat Zika Virus

Hillary Clinton nyt black backLaguna Beach, CA, August 24, 2016 — The Associated Press today reports that Hillary Clinton is proposing a new fund to improve the federal government’s response to the continued spread of the Zika vurus.

Clinton says the U.S. is failing to sufficiently invest in public health preparedness, not only for Zika, but health threats from potentially pandemic diseases, climate change and possible bioterrorism.

If elected, Clinton would create what she’s calling a “Public Health Rapid Response Fund” to help federal agencies and local hospital systems respond faster and more aggressively — similarly to how the government responds to a natural disaster. Continue reading

With Congress Deadlocked and on Break, White House Diverts Funds to Fight Zika

Zika 3Washington, DC, August 12, 2016 The New York Times reports that the Obama administration on Thursday announced it was shifting $81 million away from biomedical research and antipoverty and health care programs to pay for the development of a Zika vaccine.

Why?  The Obama administration is resorting to extraordinary measures because Congress has failed to approve new funding to combat the virus.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told members of Congress in a letter that without the diverted funds, the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority would run out of money to confront the mosquito-borne illness by the end of the month. Continue reading

NIH Begins Testing Investigational Zika Vaccine in Humans

NIH in BlueBethesda, MD, August 3, 2016 ― The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced it has launched a clinical trial of a vaccine candidate intended to prevent Zika virus infection.  The early-stage study will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in participants.

At least 80 healthy volunteers ages 18-35 years at three study sites in the United States, including the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, are expected to participate in the trial.

Scientists at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) developed the investigational vaccine — called the NIAID Zika virus investigational DNA vaccine — earlier this year. Continue reading

CDC Issues Travel Guidance Related to Miami Neighborhood with Active Zika Spread

Zika CDC UpdateAtlanta, GA, August 2, 2016 ― New assessments of mosquito populations and test results this past weekend by Florida public health officials, as part of a community survey in the Miami neighborhood where several Zika infections were recently confirmed, have found persistent mosquito populations and additional Zika infections in the same area.

This information suggests that there is a risk of continued active transmission of Zika virus in that area.

As a result, CDC and Florida are issuing travel, testing and other recommendations for people who traveled to or lived in the Florida-designated areas on or after June 15, 2016, the earliest known date that one of the people could have been infected with Zika. Continue reading