OIE chief’s downplaying of pandemic risk draws fire

first_imgJan 11, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Disease experts and preparedness advocates reacted negatively today to comments by the head of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) suggesting that the risk of an influenza pandemic posed by the H5N1 avian flu virus is minimal.In news reports yesterday, Dr. Bernard Vallat, director-general of the Paris-based OIE, was quoted as saying that the H5N1 virus is “extremely stable,” implying that it is unlikely to evolve into a human pandemic strain.In interviews today, experts such as Dr. Kathy Neuzil, MD, chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA’s) Pandemic Influenza Task Force, countered that the virus has been known to mutate many times already and that both science and history suggest it still represents a very real threat.Accounts from the Associated Press (AP), Agence France-Presse (AFP), and Reuters offered somewhat different versions of Vallat’s comments, with the AP making him sound the most reassuring—or complacent.According to the AP, Vallat said, “The risk [of a pandemic] was overestimated.” Concern a few years ago about a possibly imminent pandemic represented “just nonscientific supposition,” he said.An AFP account focused on Vallat’s statements about the stability of the H5N1 virus. “We have never seen a virus which has been so stable for so long,” Vallat was quoted as saying. “Compared to other viruses, it is extremely stable, which minimizes the risk of mutation” into a pandemic strain.He also said the virus is endemic in Indonesia, Egypt, and to a lesser extent Nigeria, according to AFP. “If we could eradicate the virus in those countries, the problem of a pandemic from Asian H5N1 would be resolved,” he asserted.But the Reuters report depicted Vallat as more cautious. “We notice that the virus is now extremely stable but there is no base to say that the H5N1 will not mutate,” he said. “Bird flu will always remain a risk, be it H5N1 or another.”Despite the somewhat conflicting accounts, the other experts asserted that Vallat was sending the wrong signal.”The main message that should be out there is that the threat is real,” said Neuzil, senior clinical advisor with the nonprofit organization PATH in Seattle.She and others pointed to the recent history of pandemics.”The 1918 pandemic occurred from a mutation of a bird virus, to the best of our knowledge,” she said. “The 1957 and 1968 pandemics occurred through viral reassortment, sudden events where human and animal viruses combined genes and came out with a new virus. So a pandemic can occur either way. You can have a very stable virus that reassorts with another virus.””H5N1 has a demonstrated ability to mutate and change,” she added. “We’ve seen it change in Vietnam, where in the course of a week or two in patients on [antiviral] therapy it has developed resistance.” Mutations also have been seen in Indonesia, she noted.”If you just stick to the science, science tell us pandemic threats are real, and there’s nothing to say that H5N1 couldn’t cause a pandemic by either of those routes [mutation or reassortment],” she concluded.David Halvorson, DVM, a veterinary pathologist and avian flu expert at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, said he was hesitant to respond to Vallat’s comments, given the differing accounts of what he said. However, Halvorson allowed, “People have noted that the Asian lineage highly pathogenic H5N1 has been around since 1997 and nothing has happened yet to cause it to spread from human to human. Does that mean it couldn’t happen tomorrow? No.”David Fedson, MD, a retired professor of medicine from the University of Virginia and former researcher with Aventis Pasteur who has spent his career working on vaccination issues, agreed with Neuzil that Vallat’s assessment doesn’t fit with history.”The statement [suggesting the risk of a pandemic is minimal] ignores history,” said Fedson, who also is on the IDSA’s Pandemic Influenza Task Force. “The history is a pandemic coming out of nowhere in 1918 and causing great global disruption. . . . A statement like this, if people pay attention, has the practical effect of telling people they don’t need to worry, they don’t need to be prepared.”Fedson said infectious diseases have caused major die-offs in several mammalian species in recent years, and humans are subject to the same threats. For example, about a third of the lions on Africa’s Serengeti Plain died of distemper virus in the early 1990s, and more than 50% of gorillas and chimpanzees have died of Ebola virus infection in this decade, he said.”Given what we know of the capability of flu viruses in general and this virus in particular, we have to take it seriously and . . . prepare for a pandemic that could cause a very high mortality,” Fedson said. “We have to recognize that we’re as vulnerable as the gorillas and chimps.”Infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, a leading pandemic preparedness proponent, recommended viewing the reports of Vallat’s comments with caution because of their differences. Nonetheless, he took strong exception to the idea that the virus is stable and doesn’t represent much of a threat.”Regardless of what Dr. Vallat said, this virus is hardly stable,” said Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News. With multiple clades and subclades of the virus identified, he said, “This virus has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to change through mutation.”He said the virus is stable only in the sense that it seems to have found a permanent home in poultry and wild birds. “There is nothing in the foreseeable future to suggest that this virus is going to die out or somehow disappear through competition or attrition in the bird reservoir,” he added.As for history lessons, Osterholm cited the flu virus subtype H3N8. Originally an avian virus, it jumped in 1960 to horses and circulated in them for decades, he said. About 5 years ago it jumped from horses to dogs, and it continues to circulate in dogs in a number of areas worldwide.”Why did it take nearly 40 years of nearly constant contact between horses and dogs before it finally made the jump to dogs?” Osterholm asked. “No one can answer that question. That should provide a rather sobering context to understanding H5N1. Three or 5 or 7 years of hypertransmission in the bird population doesn’t really tell us anything about whether this could one day become a pandemic strain.”Osterholm concluded, “Unfortunately, some have read this [Vallat’s comments] to mean that the final chapter has been written on our concern about pandemic flu. There’s nothing that could be further from the truth. We’re closer today to the onset of the next pandemic than we were yesterday, but not as close as we’ll be tomorrow.”last_img read more

Back under lockdown: Localized measures

first_imgMiddle East WEST BANK: The Palestinian Authority on Sunday extended a lockdown of the occupied West Bank decided on July 3, also imposing a curfew.ISRAEL: New restrictions came into force on July 7, including the closure of bars and sports centers and a limit on the number of people in public places.Some towns and neighborhoods across the country, considered pandemic hotspots, are living under even stricter restrictions. Oceania AUSTRALIA: Five million people have been obliged to stay at home since Thursday for six weeks in Australia’s second biggest city Melbourne.The state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, on Wednesday closed all its borders to protect the rest of Australia, which has so far managed to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control.Topics : Africa MOROCCO: The one million population of the northern Moroccan city of Tangiers has been locked down again since Monday, after the appearance of epidemic hotspots there.MADAGASCAR: Has placed its capital Antananarivo under a fresh lockdown, two months after the restrictions were eased. It will be in place until July 20.SOUTH AFRICA: A curfew from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am came back into effect on Monday. Asia THE PHILIPPINES: The 250,000 inhabitants of Navotas, a district in Manila, will go back into lockdown for two weeks in coming days, an official said on Monday.AZERBAIJAN: Reinstated a strict lockdown from June 22 to August 1.UZBEKISTAN: The central Asian nation imposed a new lockdown on July 10. Restaurants, sports centers, swimming pools and non-food shops are closed until August 1. Americas ARGENTINA: A toughening of lockdown measures in Buenos Aires and its surrounding area has been imposed from July 1 to 17.COLOMBIA: Bogota, the epicenter of the pandemic in Colombia, will from Monday enforce a strict zonal lockdown, affecting 2.5 million people, to restrict movement for the next two weeks. SPAIN: The northeastern region of Catalonia ordered the lockdown of the city of Lerida and surrounding areas Sunday, a week after the zone had been placed under less strict lockdown. However, a local court on Monday suspended the move, which affected more than 200,000 people.PORTUGAL: Lockdown at home has been in place since July 1 for 700,000 inhabitants in the Lisbon region, for a period of at least two weeks.BRITAIN: On June 30 the city of Leicester began a localized two-week lockdown with non-essential shops shutting. Fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus have led to renewed, often more localized, lockdowns, such as those announced in the Moroccan city of Tangiers and in Manila on Monday.Here is an overview:Europe last_img read more

Friday people roundup

first_imgRoyal London Asset Management – Trevor Greetham is to head the new multi-asset division, joining from Fidelity Worldwide Investment. He will report to Piers Hillier, RLAM’s newly appointed CIO. Greetham spent nearly a decade at Fidelity, most recently overseeing a number of its multi-asset activities.Hermes Investment Management – Ian Kennedy has been named COO, joining the board and executive committee. He has more than 20 years’ experience in finance, working at Fortis Private Banking and as COO and CFO at BNP Paribas UK Wealth Management.Temple Bright – Comron Rowe has joined Temple Bright, which has launched a pensions practice. Rowe joins from Foot Anstey and has previously also worked at Simmons & Simmons. He has advised both private sector clients during negotiations with the Pensions Regulator and worked with outsourcing companies implementing the UK’s Fair Deal policy, whereby public sector workers transfer to the private sector. Zurich, Punter Southall, Ashcroft Rowan, RLAM, Hermes, Temple BrightZurich – Laurie Edmans has been named chair of the Zurich UK Life’s new Independent Governance Board (IGC). Edmans has held a number of non-executive roles and is currently chair of trustees at the Trinity Mirror Pension Plan, as well as serving as a council member at the Pensions Policy Institute and formerly being a board member at the National Employment Savings Trust. His role at Zurich will see him chair the new IGC, a board created to act as a quasi-trustee board within contract-based DC funds.Punter Southall – John Gordon, Douglas Primrose, Nick Vine and Will Wolfenden have been promoted to principal. Gordon has more than a decade’s experience in the pensions industry, qualifying as an actuary in 2007, while Primrose has been with Punter Southall since 1997 and primarily advises trustee boards. Vine joined in 2000, qualifying as an actuary in 2007 and advises both DB and DC schemes, while Wolfenden joined in 2001, qualifying as an actuary in 2006.Ashcroft Rowan – The asset management division has appointed Gregor McNie as investment director. Based in London, he will report to asset management head Harry Burnham. McNie joins from Brewin Dolphin and has worked at James Capel Investment Management and HSBC over the course of his nearly 30-year career.last_img read more

Major German pension providers invest in rating agency Scope

first_imgGerman insurance companies HDI and Signal Induna are among the newest financial backers of European rating agency Scope.The research and rating company – which aims to break the oligopoly of the big three US credit rating agencies – has raised capital from a number of investors, including several Pensionskassen operators.“Institutional investors who buy into the company are primarily motivated by their interest in establishing a European rating alternative, in addition to expectations around Scope’s value development,” said Florian Schoeller, CEO and founder of the Scope Group.Following recent investments from Switzerland, Scope has sought permission to offer its services in the country and was granted a license by the Swiss financial authority FINMA. “Financial market regulation in Switzerland stipulates that supervised institutions may use the credit ratings of registered credit rating agencies for regulatory purposes,” Scope said.Scope is the only EU-based independent full-service rating agency that operates internationally. It currently has offices in London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Oslo and Frankfurt with Berlin as the headquarter.Although the company is unlisted, roughly 70 shareholders are invested directly in Scope. These include institutional investors from Austria – such as Vienna-based B&C Beteiligungsmanagement – and insurers from Switzerland (Mobiliar) and Luxembourg (Foyer).HDI, the parent company of insurer Talanx, and Signal Iduna are major players in the German pension market, running some of the largest Pensionskassen in the second pillar and featuring in IPE’s Top 1000 Pension Funds ranking last year.In addition, Scope has appointed Ralf Garrn as head of digital development to “shape its digital future”.Garrn founded rating agency Euler Hermes Rating in 2001, with a focus on small and medium-sized companies. He was managing director until last year, having previously spent three years at its insurer parent company as director of credit risk management.“Garrn is one of the innovators driving the rating industry’s digitalisation,” said Schoeller.The Euler Hermes rating agency is co-owned by Moody’s, and in June 2018 François Bourgeois took over as managing director.last_img read more

Cannabis killed my son – don’t let it do the same to you (UK)

first_imgDaily Mail 4 December 2017Family First Comment: “With Dorset Police, Mrs Hamilton is giving talks in assemblies beginning this month. The former prep school music teacher from North Dorset, said she wanted youngsters to realise cannabis can be lethal. She said: ‘It’s like Russian roulette and young people don’t realise they are risking death by experimenting.” www.SayNopeToDope.nzA retired teacher whose son’s death was caused by mental illness brought on by cannabis is touring schools to warn children about the drug.Janie Hamilton lost her 36-year-old son James to testicular cancer after his drug-induced psychosis led him to refuse chemotherapy.His death was recorded as being partly caused by schizophrenia, which his family believe was triggered by cannabis addiction.James’s personality changed dramatically after he became hooked on the drug at 14. He was sectioned aged 20.He later admitted to his family that he knew cannabis caused his mental illness, but could not bring himself to stop smoking it.With Dorset Police, Mrs Hamilton is giving talks in assemblies beginning this month.The former prep school music teacher from North Dorset, said she wanted youngsters to realise cannabis can be lethal. She said: ‘It’s like Russian roulette and young people don’t realise they are risking death by experimenting.’READ MORE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5141969/Cannabis-killed-son-dont-let-you.htmlKeep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

Dads call for more support for fathers to take parental leave

first_imgStuff co.nz 31 August 2019 Kiwi dads are calling for employers and the government to support more fathers to take parental leave.In 2017, about 300 Kiwi men – 1 per cent of those eligible – took paid parental leave, compared with 30,000 women.A new campaign, Kiwi Dads, hopes to change those statistics and normalise fathers taking time off work to care for their kids.Currently, dads can take up to two weeks of unpaid parental leave.If they are the primary caregiver of a child younger than 6, men can also get 22 weeks of paid leave from the Government, capped at $585.80 per week before tax – provided their partner does not also claim the payments too. However, hardly any men access this.For Adam Walters, being able to take 18 weeks of parental leave at full pay thanks to a policy his employer had was “amazing”. His employer, Scentre Group, which operates Westfield malls across the country, introduced the new policy shortly before the birth of his second son Louis a year ago.“It’s got to be my biggest challenge that I’ve ever undertaken I think. But at the same time the most rewarding,” Walters said.READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/115348729/dads-call-for-more-support-for-fathers-to-take-parental-leave?cid=app-iPhoneKeep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

ICC World Cup I’m fine and will be in hotel tomorrow, says Lara after hospitalisation due to chest pain

first_img For all the Latest Sports News News, ICC World Cup News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps. New Delhi: West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara Tuesday said he is “fine” and will be back in “my hotel room tomorrow”, allaying concerns of his countless fans hours after being admitted to a hospital here due to chest pain. The 50-year-old from Trinidad, considered one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game, was admitted to the Global Hospital in Parel.While there was no official word from the hospital on his condition, a source close to the player said there was no major cause of concern. But the cricket fraternity heaved a sigh of relief only after Lara spoke in an audio message posted by Cricket West Indies (CWI).“I know everyone is very concerned about what is happening. I may have just extended myself in the gym this morning. I was getting a pain in my chest and I just thought that it was best to see a doctor. I was taken to the hospital, pain continued obviously and a lot of tests were done,” said Lara.The batting great may have been a tad unwell but his wits were in tact even while lying on a hospital bed. “I am just chilling in my hospital bed, watching England versus Australia…not a big fan of England, hopefully Australia can restrict England…. I am going to be alright. My phone is going non stop so I am going to switch it off. Not that I would like to switch it off because I would like to speak to my family.”Lara played 131 Tests for the West Indies and averaged 52.89 for his 11,953 runs, while his 299 ODI appearances yielded 10,405 runs at 40.17.He added in the audio message, “Just letting everyone know that I am fine, recovering and I will be back in my hotel room tomorrow. Couple of the tests came back already. Doctors were happy that there is nothing major. Thanks again for your concern.”Before Lara spoke, a source close to the former West Indies captain had said there was nothing to worry about. “He had an angioplasty (a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart) done two years back and today was a regular check-up as there is always a fear of heart pain. He is fine now and will be discharged soon,” the source had told PTI.Besides his countless fans, Cricket West Indies (CWI) wished him a speedy recovery. “Our prayers and well wishes go out to former West Indies batsman and captain @BrianLara who has been hospitalized in Mumbai due to chest pains. On behalf of all of us at Cricket West Indies, we wish you a speedy recovery,” tweeted CWI.Earlier, the hospital authorities were tight-lipped about why Lara was admitted and refused to divulge any details.“As a policy, we respect our patients and their right to privacy. Till the time the patient doesn’t give us consent, we cannot divulge anything about him. Please respect his privacy. At this point, we cannot say anything,” Dr Jigna Shrotriya, the Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, had said in a brief statement issued in the evening.She was asked repeatedly about the speculation that Lara underwent an angiography, a common test to check blockages in arteries or veins, after being admitted to the hospital in the afternoon but Shrotriya declined to comment. The former batsman is in the country as an analyst for the official broadcasters of the ongoing World Cup. “But he was not shooting for the last couple of days,” the source had said.The legendary left-handed batsman is the first and only player to have registered 400 runs in a Test innings, playing the incredible unbeaten knock against England in 2004 in Antigua. He also holds the record for the highest individual score in first-class cricket, 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston in 1994.Nicknamed ‘The Prince’ for his languid strokeplay, Lara is considered one of the most awe-inspiring batters of an era in which the iconic Sachin Tendulkar and Australian Ricky Ponting were his contemporaries. last_img read more

Pakistan captains pay touching tributes to late coach Bob Woolmer

first_img… on his 13th death anniversaryFORMER Pakistan captains, Younis Khan, Inzamam ul Haq and Shaoib Malik sent out touching tributes to their late coach Bob Woolmer, on his 13th death anniversary.Woolmer died on March 18, 2007 just a few hours after Pakistan’s shocking defeat against Ireland during the ICC World Cup in West Indies.Pakistan were subsequently knocked out of the tournament but Woolmer’s untimely death left everyone stunned.Pakistan’s World T20 winning captain Younis Khan shared a picture of him and Woolmer on twitter with a note, which reads: “Dear Bob, It has been 13 years since we have lost you, but you are as fresh as yesterday in my memories. I owe you my cricketing success and I wish you were alive to have witnessed my achievements till date. I hope I made you proud. Rest in peace”.Meanwhile, Shoaib Malik tweeted, “Miss you coach #RIPBobWoolmer.”Inzamam, who was the captain of the side during 2007 World Cup campaign, made a video for late coach.The former Pakistan captain shared his whole experience with Bob Woolmer and also explained what he and other teammates suffered during days of Woolmer’s death in West Indies.“Woolmer and I spent time together, I was the captain of Pakistan team during his tenure,” said Inzamam. “We shared many great moments together. He was the most organised coach that I ever worked with.”“I learned a lot from him. He was not like other coaches. His methods were different, and never forced anything on player or captain. He knew how to give respect to the captain.”“I got to learn a lot from him. He never used to force things upon the selectors. He simply used to bring me the stats and never undermined the captain with respect to the selection of players.Speaking about the team’s situation after Ireland loss, he said: “When we lost the match against Ireland, we entered the dressing room very quietly. We didn’t discuss anything there.”“When we reached the hotel, coincidently, we all were together in the lift when Bob asked me: what is the plan? I said we will talk tomorrow over breakfast, But he never came for it,” said Inzamam, who represented Pakistan in five World Cups. “I went back to my room and got a call from someone asking to come to Bob’s room.”“Police had come to his floor and they didn’t allow me to go inside Woolmer’s room. Our team manager asked them to ‘let him come, he is Pakistan captain’. I can’t express my feeling what I saw. Bob was taken to the hospital and soon news came that he was no more. The entire team was shocked. The doctors had declared the death as murder and we were all left stunned by it.”Furthermore, Inzamam shared that they were being interrogated by Jamaican police, as we were behind Woolmer’s death.Initially the Jamaican police had said they were probing a murder case but after three months they announced that the former England cricketer had died of natural causes.last_img read more

Jim Boeheim on presidential election: ‘Let’s get the thing over with’

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Here’s what Boeheim had to say at the end of his Tuesday night presser:AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Just let’s get the thing over with, will you? Let’s, please. Wish we’d stop concentrating on things that have no bearing on whether somebody can be president or not. I wish we’d concentrate on things that are relevant and not worry about what somebody said or what somebody’s wife’s ex, or …  husband wrote in his email.“Do we care? Who cares. I don’t care who. And most of it I really don’t want to see. So why are we worried about stuff like that, let’s worry about the issues and who we think could be a good president and get something done in Washington. And hopefully the American people, I hope, have enough sense about what they’re doing when they go to the polls.“It’s very scary. Alright, we’ll see you. (Walks off podium)“I didn’t make any statements though. (Laughter) If you coach, you’re not allowed to have an opinion about these things.” Comments Published on November 2, 2016 at 8:28 am Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossman For more than nine minutes after Syracuse’s exhibition win on Tuesday night, Jim Boeheim spoke about his team’s successes and areas needing improvement. On the 12th and final question however, he was pushed off course.Coach, a non-basketball question: Your thoughts on the (presidential) election? Do you plan on voting next week?The 41-year veteran head coach immediately shook his head in disapproval and elicited a 70-second response, providing a last-second commentary with Americans hitting the polls next Tuesday.MORE COVERAGE:Jim Boeheim on playing man-to-man: “We wanted to get some practice”What we learned from SU’s exhibition win over IUPTyus Battle impresses in first exhibition gamelast_img read more

Galway and Waterford teams to be announced

first_imgThe build up to the 2017 All Ireland Senior Hurling Final continues today, with Galway and Waterford set to finalise their teams.Tadhg de Burca is expected to replace the suspended Conor Gleeson in the Waterford starting 15.Johnny Glynn could come in for the Tribesmen, having made a big impact when introduced during the semi final win over Tipperary. It is a first All Ireland final appearance for Waterford in nine years.last_img