The U.K. government has quietly downgraded the threat assessment for smallpox. The decision comes a decade after the previous administration began spending $120 million on smallpox vaccines in preparation for a possible terrorist attack.
For a disease that was eradicated in 1980, smallpox attracts a lot of time, talk and resources. As of May 8, 1980, the only known presence of the virus was in U.S. and Russian government labs. But consistent rumors of renegade stocks or re-engineered viruses have kept defense experts alert.
Whooping cough is a tough disease to vaccinate against. Children are given five shots before they are old enough to go to school, yet even this multistep regime is failing to protect everyone. Last year a preteen booster shot was added to the vaccination plan in response to rising incidence.
A man vaccinated against smallpox passed on a milder form of the disease to a sexual partner, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Novartis has talked up the prospects of its typhoid vaccine candidate after completing Phase II safety studies. A wider rollout is now being considered as Novartis pushes to develop a vaccine to eliminate a disease that still kills 200,000 people a year.
Adding more children's vaccines to the recommended package should--in theory--save more lives. But rising prices may actually mean fewer children are vaccinated.
Computer technology is being used more widely in upping vaccination rates worldwide. A team of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children's Hospital rolled out a free online service that helps people locate nearby vaccine providers in an effort to boost immunization numbers.
Researchers have discovered cases of whooping cough caused by a germ that may stand up to the vaccine.
The European Commission committed about €6 million ($8.09 million) to the PlacMalVac project to help develop a vaccine candidate against pregnancy-associated malaria.
While a closely watched study of Gates-backed TB vaccine MVA85A failed to produce the desired results to guard against infection in infants, a dozen more vaccine candidates are being tested in humans. Regardless of results, the first efficacy trial of a new TB vaccine is a milestone.