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US antiterrorism rules restrict vaccine exports

first_imgOct 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – A recent Associated Press (AP) report revealed that, in the name of preventing biological attacks, the United States has rules barring the exportation of vaccines for avian influenza, smallpox, yellow fever, and many other pathogens to five countries classified as sponsors of terrorism.Under Department of Commerce rules, vaccines for a long list of viruses, bacteria, and biological toxins cannot be exported to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria unless they obtain a special export license, which can take weeks.Pandemic flu vaccines are not restricted under the rules. But the Department of Commerce confirmed that—as reported by the AP—Cuba, Iran, and Sudan are subject to a ban on pandemic flu vaccines as part of general US trade embargoes covering nearly all products. Those embargoes are based on “broader foreign policy reasons,” said Kevin Kurland, a spokesman for the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.The list of pathogens subject to the rules includes many viruses, some of which are little known and some of which there is no vaccine for. Examples, besides those mentioned, are the viruses that cause dengue fever, Ebola fever, Marburg fever, Rift Valley fever, and monkeypox. A list of animal pathogens covered by the restrictions includes highly pathogenic avian flu viruses.Bacterial pathogens on the restricted list include anthrax and the microbes that cause tularemia and plague. Not on the list are the causes of common vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and seasonal influenza.It can take up to 40 days for a country to obtain an export license for a restricted product, Kurland told CIDRAP News. But he said humanitarian needs are considered, and licenses can be granted much faster in emergencies.Rules go back to 1990sThe AP report said the restrictions were quietly established in the mid 1990s and were strengthened after the Sep 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent anthrax mailings. Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were not even aware of the regulations until the AP asked about them, the story said.Disease and bioterrorism experts say there is little reason to think that exporting the vaccines would increase the risk of biological attacks, but a Commerce Department official quoted in the AP story defended them.”Legitimate public health and scientific research is not adversely affected by these controls,” Assistant Commerce Secretary Christopher Wall told the AP.Concerning avian flu vaccines for poultry in particular, Wall declined to explain what kind of threat they pose, but said there are valid reasons for taking steps to ensure they “do not fall into the wrong hands,” according to the story.In response to questions from CIDRAP News, Bill Hall, an HHS spokesman in Washington, DC, said HHS is not usually consulted about trade sanctions, even when they involve medical products. “The United States government currently requires a license for the export from the US of a wide range of goods, products, and services to Cuba, Iran, and Sudan as part of its overall foreign policy,” Hall commented by e-mail.”Although these licensing requirements cover exports of medical products such as human influenza vaccine, HHS is not routinely consulted on the foreign policy decisions to impose sanctions on exports of U.S. goods to state sponsors of terrorism, even including medical products such as vaccines.”In the meantime, HHS is working closely with the Department of Commerce and other government agencies to determine the most effective and humane actions the US government could take to help protect global public health, regardless of the nation or nations involved.”Vaccines into weapons?Scientists quoted in the AP report said the idea that vaccines could be used to make biological weapons makes little sense. Vaccines typically contain inactivated viruses or bacteria or pieces of a virus or bacterium, though some vaccines use live but weakened microbes. Smallpox vaccine contains live vaccinia virus, a less dangerous relative of the smallpox virus.Referring to avian flu vaccines, Ian Ramshaw, an immunology and biosecurity expert at Australian National University in Canberra, told the AP, “I can think of no scientific reason how a terrorist organization could use such a vaccine for malicious intent. I personally think it’s a rather silly attitude and the U.S. is probably going overboard as it has in the past with many of its bioterrorism initiatives.”Infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, said he doesn’t see the logic behind the restrictions either. He is director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which publishes CIDRAP News.”There really isn’t any reason that using the vaccine to create the agent would be a concern,” he said. “The only potential implication is if you had individuals working on [weaponizing] the agent, by vaccinating them you could protect them so they could work on it.”He observed that the idea of weaponizing the H5N1 avian flu virus, for example, is not a concern, since the virus does not easily infect humans or spread easily from person to person. The virus could be used as a weapon against poultry, “but that’s not about the vaccine,” he said. “So I don’t understand the logic about this at all.””Anywhere in the world you can reduce the potential for these diseases, we should do that,” Osterholm said.Kurland said countries subject to the restrictions can get export licenses fairly quickly in emergencies.”By executive order, the process for reviewing licenses can take up to 40 days, although this can be expedited in emergency situations,” he said via e-mail. “Humanitarian issues are considered in license applications. During recent hurricane relief efforts in Cuba, for example, license applications for such humanitarian efforts were processed in 4 days or less.”See also: Commerce Department regulations supplement listing pathogens whose vaccines are subject to export restrictions for countries classified as sponsors of terrorism (see pages 57-60, 70)http://www.access.gpo.gov/bis/ear/pdf/ccl1.pdflast_img read more

Boca Raton expected to encourage residents to wear face masks in public

first_imgBoca Raton Mayor Scott Singer said that he expects the city to issue a new emergency order to encourage everyone to wear a cloth face covering or mask in public paces.The emergency order in Boca Raton is just a recommendation to wear a face mask in public, not a mandate. However, a spokesperson for the city said if you defy the emergency order, police could issue you a “notice to appear” in court.If a judge determines you were violating the order intentionally, you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, a spokesperson said.Face coverings are encouraged to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, city leaders said on Thursday.It’s unclear when Boca Raton’s emergency order on face coverings will go into effect.last_img read more

PL set June 17 restart pending government approval

first_img(BBC) – The Premier League (PL) is set to restart on June 17 with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, subject to government approval.A full round of fixtures would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21.There are 92 matches still to play, and the first to take place will be those the four teams involved have in hand.All matches will take place behind closed doors and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport or Amazon Prime.BBC Sport will air four live matches for the first time since the Premier League’s inception in 1992.Meanwhile, Sky Sports will show 64 matches live and make 25 available free to air.Safety guidelines are yet to be issued by the government and decisions will remain subject to the continuing fight against coronavirus.BBC Sport understands that clubs have agreed to a provisional end date of Saturday, July 25.It is also understood that finishing the season would require six weekends and three midweek rounds.“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters,” PL chief executive Richard Masters said.“It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.”Masters added that the resumption date would not be confirmed “until we have met all the safety requirements needed”.WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND?The PL was suspended on March 13 because of the pandemic and it will be 100 days after Leicester City’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9 that competition will – prospectively – resume.Manchester City v Arsenal was already scheduled to be shown on Sky Sports, while Aston Villa v Sheffield United was not listed for live coverage when selections were announced in February.Home and away matches look most likely for the vast majority of games – with a few high-profile games at neutral venues at the request of the police.A number of clubs have expressed their opposition to the concept of using neutral grounds, including Brighton, West Ham and Crystal Palace.On Wednesday, clubs unanimously voted to resume contact training, having started non-contact training last week.So far 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2 752 tests across the league.PL players and staff will continue to be tested twice a week, with the capacity increased from 50 to 60 tests per club for the fourth round of testing.Any players or staff to test positive must self-isolate for a period of seven days.Plans for the third phase of Project Restart include a step towards normal training and build-up to competitive games.Liverpool currently sit 25 points clear at the top of the table while Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.The Reds, chasing a first league title in 30 years, could clinch it with victory in their first game back should second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal.last_img read more

Badgers working on new techniques

first_imgThere’s an old sentiment in the sporting world that states the more experienced teams often perform the best. Don’t tell that to the Wisconsin volleyball team.After having practiced as a team for just a short time this spring, sophomore Kirby Toon was pleased with her team’s 25-23, 25-17, 25-21 victory Saturday over UW-Milwaukee.“We’ve only been practicing for about a week, so it’s looking pretty good,” Toon said. “We have a very young team with a lot of new players coming in.”The Badgers’ roster features many underclassmen and includes only three seniors.Head coach Pete Waite was also impressed by his young team’s performance. He highlighted a few keys to the win that they had practiced during the preceding week.“I thought our serve receive was pretty solid,” Waite said. “That’s something we’ve been working on during our individual workouts and team workouts.”The Badgers were aced just three times and committed only four receiving errors in total.Senior Allison Wack, who led the team with 17 kills in the match, agreed her team’s improved serve receiving was an integral part of their success.“We are just seeing better serve receive than last year,” Wack said. “Overall I think it was great. We’re working on a whole lot of new things and new techniques.”Waite explained some of the new ideas he and his staff have already started to implement.“We had Kirby Toon and Al Wack jump-serving with topspin, which was new for them. They did a nice job,” Waite said. “That always puts the opponent on their heels a little bit.”The new serving technique did seem to throw the Panthers off, allowing the Badgers to pick up several easy points throughout the match. Wisconsin recorded 11 aces, including two by Toon and four by Wack.UW-Milwaukee, however, also presented some unique challenges for the Badgers. The Panthers play in a slightly different way than Waite and his team is accustomed to seeing.“Milwaukee runs a very fast offense so they’re flying all over the place and they’re tough to keep up with,” Waite said. “As a bigger team from the Big Ten, we played a smaller team from the Horizon League that’s a great ball handling team and I think our ball handling stood up with theirs; it’s not an easy thing to do because every conference recruits in a different way.”Although the Badgers stood up to most of the challenges that Milwaukee presented, Waite and his players know there is still much to be learned.Waite specifically addressed the team’s struggles with maintaining a high hit percentage. The Badgers struggled in that statistical category, hitting only .141. In 2009, Wisconsin finished with a .172 percentage for the season.“Our hitting percentage needs to be better; we need to bring that up,” Waite said. “After a week of team training, that’s a really good reminder to us of what [we] need to focus on even more.”The Badgers are hoping they can improve in all areas this spring while also gaining valuable experience for the more trying fall season.“Our goal isn’t necessarily [about] the wins and the losses,” Toon said. “It’s to go out and improve every time we play.”last_img read more