WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research (IVR): Strategic Plan 2010-2020

The WHO’s Initiative for Vaccine Research (IVR) released its Strategic Plan 2010-2020. The Executive Summary of the 34-page plan notes:

“Building on a decade of experience, IVR has formulated a long-term Strategic Plan that takes account of the evolving vaccine R&D landscape, and of the strong leadership role it can play as the WHO integrated vaccine research arm. The much welcomed new players in the vaccine R&D pipeline accentuate the need for increased global coordination and normative and technical support to countries, roles that are at the heart of IVR’s mandate.

“The Strategic Plan 2010–2020 has a matrix approach that uses four strategic functions and a set of priority areas to address public health priorities, and it is here that IVR has most significantly evolved since the previous strategy. The matrix is directly aligned with WHO’s corporate strategy and policies to stimulate innovation in health research, as well as with the global immunization agenda of the Organization. This harmonization will further strengthen synergies between research- and disease-focused programmes.

Strategic functions
The four strategic functions that will guide the core work of IVR over the next 10 years are:
i) identification of vaccine and vaccination research priorities;
ii) the development of research standards and guidelines;
iii) the strengthening of research and product development capacity;
iv) the translation of research results into policy and practice.

http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2010/WHO_IVB_10.02_eng.pdf

World Health Assembly: 17–21 May 2010

The sixty-third World Health Assembly (17–21 May 2010; Geneva, Switzerland) closed after passing multiple resolutions. A WHO media summarized these actions from which we select those key to our monitoring of issues touching on vaccine ethics and policy:

…Public health, innovation and intellectual property: global strategy and plan for action
The issue of intellectual property is critical for 4.8 billion people who live in developing countries, more than 40% of them living on less than 2 US dollars a day. Poverty affects their access to health products to fight disease. The debate this year focused on financing issues, including the rational use of funds, and conducting research through regional networks. The global strategy proposes that WHO should play a strategic and central role in the relationship between public health and innovation and intellectual property within its mandate. The strategy was designed to promote new thinking in innovation and access to medicines, which would encourage needs-driven research rather than purely market-driven research. A new consultative working group will examine the way to take this work forward and is expected to report back to the 65th Health Assembly in 2012…

Viral hepatitis
Member States accepted the report to the World Health Assembly and adopted a resolution including a World Hepatitis Day on 28 July. Viral hepatitis (i.e. hepatitis A, B, C, D and E) —a combination of diseases that are estimated to kill over 1 million people each year and an estimated 1 in 12 persons are currently infected and have to face a life with liver disease if unrecognized. This endorsement by Member States calls for WHO to develop a comprehensive approach to the prevention and control of these diseases…

…Monitoring of the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The resolution expresses concern at the relatively slow progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and at the fact that maternal, newborn and child health as well as universal access to reproductive health services remain constrained by health inequities.   Member States noted that MDGs 4 and 5 were lagging behind and agreed to strengthen national health systems as well as take into account health equity in all national policies. They also reaffirmed the value of primary health care and renewed their commitment to prevent and eliminate maternal, newborn and child mortality and morbidity…

…Global eradication of measles
Member States endorsed a series of interim targets set for 2015 as milestones towards the eventual global eradication of measles. Countries were encouraged by the efforts and progress made in controlling measles but also highlighted the challenges that need to be addressed to achieve the 2015 targets. These include competing public health priorities, weak immunization systems, sustaining high routine vaccination coverage, addressing the funding gap, vaccinating the hard-to-reach population and addressing an increasing number of measles outbreaks particularly in cross border areas. Success in achieving the measles 2015 targets is a key issue if the Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce child mortality is to be reached…

…Treatment and prevention of pneumonia
WHO Member States adopted a resolution on the treatment and prevention of pneumonia — the number one killer of children under five years globally. The resolution makes it clear that intensified efforts to address pneumonia are imperative if the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 4 is to be achieved…

…Pandemic influenza preparedness: sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits
Members States expressed strong support for the continuing efforts of the Open-Ended Working Group to further global pandemic influenza preparedness by strengthening the sharing of influenza viruses and of benefits such as vaccines. Member States spoke on the progress made at the recent intergovernmental meeting (held 10-12 May 2010) and characterized the interaction as transparent, substantive, collaborative and an important foundation for future negotiation in this area. The role of industry as a stakeholder in the process to increase global capacity for vaccine production, increased technology transfer to developing countries, and access to supplies of vaccine and medicines at affordable prices for resource-limited countries were among issues raised. A number of countries urged the collaboration to move forward to increase pandemic preparedness and protect global public health. Having considered the report of the Open-Ended Working Group (15 April 2010), a resolution was passed:
– to request the Director-General to continue to support the effort and undertake any technical consultations and studies as necessary; and
– to decide that the group will report through the Executive Board to the Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly ( May 2011) .

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2010/wha_closes_20100521/en/index.html

Complete World Health Assembly documentation available at: http://apps.who.int/gb/e/e_wha63.html

GAVI welcomes World Health Assemply action on pneumonia

The GAVI Alliance said it welcomed the World Health Assembly resolution “that calls on the WHO and its 193 Member States to take concrete actions to tackle pneumonia, which kills more than 1.6 million children a year…”  GAVI CEO Julian Lob-Levyt commented, “We applaud this initiative and we call on governments to adhere to the commitment they made here today to protect the world’s most vulnerable citizens. The resolution was passed by consensus, underlining a new universal commitment to combating pneumonia…This is the first time that governments of the world have come together to make a unified, comprehensive commitment to tackle the most prevalent killer of young children in the world.” The resolution calls on governments to combat pneumonia “through implementation of three groups of effective interventions outlined in the WHO/UNICEF Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of Pneumonia (GAPP). The GAPP aims to:
– Protect children by providing a healthy environment where they are at low risk of pneumonia; steps include encouraging exclusive breastfeeding for six months, reducing indoor air pollution and promoting hand washing
– Prevent children becoming ill with pneumonia by vaccinating against its causes. Pneumococcus bacteria and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) are the leading causes of the most severe cases of pneumonia and both are vaccine-preventable
– Treat children who become ill with pneumonia through effective case management in communities, health centres and hospitals.

http://www.gavialliance.org/media_centre/press_releases/2010_05_21_wha_pneumonia_resolution.php

WHO: Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 – update 101: 21 May 2010

The WHO continues to issue weekly updates on the H1N1 pandemic at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 – update 101
Weekly update
21 May 2010

As of 16 May, worldwide more than 214 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 18097 deaths…

Situation update:
The current situation is largely unchanged since the last update. The most active areas of pandemic influenza virus transmission currently are in parts of the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. In the temperate zone of the northern and southern hemisphere, overall pandemic influenza activity remains low to sporadic. In central Africa, there has been increased transmission of seasonal influenza type B viruses, accounting for 85% of all influenza isolates in the region. Influenza B also continues to be detected at low levels across parts of Asia and Europe, and has now been reported in Central America…

More at: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_05_21/en/index.html

NIH: Ebola vaccine breakthrough

The NIH said that new research “has found that an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by NIH researchers protects monkeys against not only the two most lethal Ebola virus species for which it was originally designed, both recognized in 1976, but also against a newer Ebola virus species that was identified in 2007.” Nancy J. Sullivan, Ph.D., of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), NIH, led the study team. Currently, there are no specific treatments or vaccines available to control Ebola outbreaks. NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. commented, “The important work by Dr. Sullivan and her colleagues shows that it is possible to generate immunity to newly identified species of Ebola virus with a vaccine originally designed to protect against a different species,” says “This finding will guide future vaccine design and may open an avenue for developing a single vaccine that works against both known and emerging Ebola virus species.” The experimental Ebola vaccine being developed at NIAID has two components, a prime and a boost. The prime consists of a DNA vaccine containing a small piece of genetic material encoding surface proteins from Zaire ebolavirus and Sudan ebolavirus. The boost consists of a weakened cold virus that delivers the Zaire ebolavirus surface protein.

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/may2010/niaid-20.htm

The findings appear in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens 20 May 2010: http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.ppat.1000904

IFFIm “vaccine bonds” impact

GAVI noted that “vaccine bonds” offered by the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) since 2008 “have proved remarkably popular with Japanese retail investors, particularly women who account for around half the buyers in recent transactions,” and have raised more than JPY 111 billion equivalent (US$ 1.2 billion). GAVI said this support has increased its grant giving capacity by 100 per cent. From http://www.gavialliance.org/media_centre/press_releases/2010_05_20_iffim_japan.php

Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) for 21 May 2010

The Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) for 21 May 2010, vol. 85, 21 (pp 185–196) includes: Rift Valley fever, South Africa – update; Public health measures taken at international borders during early stages of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009: preliminary results; Prevention and treatment of artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria: update for international travellers

http://www.who.int/wer/2010/wer8521.pdf