Month: November 2020

  • Democrats to lose House seats but keep majority

    first_imgU.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.Alyssa Schukar | Bloomberg | Getty Images – Advertisement – In races called by NBC, Republicans have flipped a net three seats. Democrats have won 199 seats, the GOP has carried 188 and 48 remain uncalled. – Advertisement – Democrats will keep their U.S. House majority in the next Congress, according to NBC News.But after a series of rough early returns from the 2020 election, the party will likely have fewer seats in January than it does now.NBC estimates Democrats will hold 226 House seats, while Republicans will have 209. The figures could change, as NBC said the parties may ultimately end up with as many as eight seats more or less than those projections. (Eight fewer seats for Democrats would put them at 218, the minimum they need for a majority).- Advertisement – Republicans have so far cut into the Democratic majority mostly by gaining back ground they lost in the 2018 midterms, when Democrats flipped House control. The GOP will defeat at least five House Democrats, including four first-term representatives.Republican Nancy Mace will beat freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st District.GOP candidate Stephanie Bice will defeat first-term Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s 5th District.Republican Michelle Fischbach will prevail over longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota’s 7th District. GOP candidate Yvette Herrell will win her rematch against first-term Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico’s 2nd District. Republican Ashley Hinson will defeat first-term Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer in Iowa’s 1st District. Democrats have also gained two seats in races called by NBC News. Deborah Ross and Kathy Manning will win races for North Carolina’s 2nd and 6th Districts, respectively. Both GOP-held seats became more friendly to Democrats after redistricting in the state. – Advertisement – Entering Election Day, forecasters projected Democrats would gain House seats and challenge for the Senate majority. Now, Democrats may only end up with a narrow majority in the House as states count final results to determine whether Republicans hold their advantage in the Senate. In a letter to House Democrats on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi projected confidence in Democratic nominee Joe Biden winning the presidential election. Remaining tallies in states including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona will determine whether he or President Donald Trump occupy the White House for the next four years. She said that the Democratic House and White House would “have the opportunity to deliver extraordinary progress” on issues including health care, infrastructure and clean government. She acknowledged a “challenging election” and said Democratic candidates “made us proud.” Out of the nine Democratic-held districts the nonpartisan Cook Political report listed as toss-up races, NBC projects Republicans will win at least four. Five are unresolved. Cook considered 17 Republican seats and one independent-held district as toss-ups. The GOP has won all nine of those races that NBC has called so far. House Democrats aimed to expand their reach in the 2020 election, targeting a range of Republican seats in states including Texas, North Carolina and Florida. After an often discussed push by Democrats to win GOP-held seats in Texas, the party has not flipped any of the districts it targeted (though NBC has not projected results in at least two of them). The party also did not gain any seats in Florida, and two South Florida House Democrats currently trail in races not yet called by NBC. Even so, NBC projects Democrats will hold a range of key districts they won in 2018. Reps. Lizzie Fletcher and Colin Allred are expected to keep their seats in Texas. Rep. Lucy McBath will win reelection in Georgia, as will Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Josh Harder of California and Kim Schrier of Washington. Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.last_img read more

  • Wild 2020 is shaping up to be a surprisingly normal year for buy-and-hold investors

    first_img “Where would the market be without the $3 trillion government stimulus?” the purists will ask, and the answer is, “In a bad place.” It’s true that Congress, with rare urgency and uncommon consensus, utterly short-circuited a recession with a massive infusion of cash into the economy — and might have modeled effective fiscal activism for future crises in the process.Eight weeks leftWhere does that leave the market now, with eight weeks left in this jarring but in some ways not-so-unusual year? Is it set up for the “normal” November-December tack-on rally?Well, to start with the basics, it remains a bull market, one of the strongest on record if one dates its start to March 23 of this year. After the same number of days since the start, this run is about even with the initial ramp of the bull market that started in August 1982, and behind only the one that launched March 2009, according to SunTrust. Other perfectly respectable, multi-year bull runs faltered or stalled a bit around this number of days since they began, but then resumed their climb. By now, “2020” has become four-digit shorthand for the unprecedented, unsettling and unbelievable. Yet in the markets, from point to point, this year has been surprisingly normal for a buy-and-close-your-eyes investor.After last week’s tension-release rally, the S&P 500 has posted an annualized gain of about 10% for 2020, or 12% or so including dividends, right in line with the historical yearly average.For investors in a traditional balanced portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, the returns are almost the same – a bit better than the long-term average for this strategy, but not by much.- Advertisement – Now, sure, the path has been wild. Since the year began, the S&P 500 went up 5%, down 35% and then up 60%. Yet market performance is always streaky and exaggerated rather than steady and comfortable.This year some of the cadences have conformed to the “usual” pattern, too. After May, the rally flattened out and grew less stable, in line with seasonal tendencies. September, the worst month of the year through the decades, saw a sharp 10% correction. And September and October together were choppy, in the typical manner of those months in an election year.The hecklers might look at the positive resolution to the drama of this pandemic-and-recession-beset year so far and insist it was all because of the Federal Reserve. And, sure, the Fed did its job in providing liquidity during a panic and pursuing its legal economic mandate of maximizing employment.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – People pass by the exterior of New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 4, 2020 in New York.Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images Last week’s 7% pop in the S&P 500 is perhaps best seen as a collective mood swing from anxiety to relief to FOMO, or fear of missing out. As hinted here last week, investors ahead of the election had grown scared and cautious enough to create the makings of an upside reversal.Early in the week, the market was positioning as if confident of a “blue wave” ushering in Democratic control of government and major fiscal expansion with higher taxes. Treasury yields and cyclical stocks rose dramatically. After Election Day pointed toward divided government with less chance of an aggressive fiscal agenda, growth stocks and bonds were bought avidly.Yet the rationales were most likely less relevant than the fact that investors simply let go of their fears and downside hedges once the big, looming event passed in a mostly orderly way.As Deutsche Bank strategist Parag Thatte put it, “While various market narratives have ascribed fundamental drivers to the moves across asset classes, in our reading these have been in line with the historical playbook, largely reflecting instead an unwinding of protection that is common around calendar risk events.”Bullish signsThe buying was surely intense enough, with the look of under-invested fund managers and individual investors grasping for exposure to a market before it ran away from them. The S&P 500 logged four straight daily gains of at least 1% for the first time in 38 years. On three separate days more than 80% of NYSE volume was in advancing stocks, a sign of powerful demand for shares.If there’s a concern in the immediate term, it could be that the market has burned a lot of fuel simply to rush toward the upper end of its three-month range. And it’s running a bit hot too. The S&P jumped from just over 3200 to above 3500 in a week. It previously traveled almost the same distance between similar levels over the course of three weeks into the Oct. 12 peak. Some cooling off or choppy churn would be neither surprising nor particularly damaging at this point.Other reassuring tidbits: The S&P 500 notched a record-high weekly close Friday (of relevance to some chart-studying traditionalists); semiconductors made a new high (though are starting again to look a bit stretched); and credit conditions are at their strongest since the Covid collapse. Any of these can reverse, but it’s tough for the market to get into too much trouble unless and until they do.Companies have proven unexpectedly resilient, too, with profits bottoming at a higher level than forecast. John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet, notes that analysts in October boosted S&P 500 profit forecasts for the current quarter by 1.8% so far. This is rare, only the third time since 2011 that estimates have gone up in the first month of a quarter; on average forecasts tend to fall more than 2% over such a span.There’s little doubt that the passage of the election will soon give way to another focal point of worry, whether the Covid-case surge or related prospect of a backsliding economy due to health-related business restrictions.This would test investors’ impressive ability to continue looking ahead to vaccine progress and corporate revival. Yet given Wall Street’s unlikely ability this year to turn extraordinary world events into perfectly normal positive returns, it’s hard to bet too confidently that the market would fail such a test. – Advertisement –last_img read more

  • Joe Biden: How the president-elect plans to tackle climate change

    first_img– Advertisement – More radical Democrats such as congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have put forward a proposal called the Green New Deal, which would eliminate carbon emissions from most sources over a decade. The Biden climate plan is more moderate.- Advertisement –last_img

  • NFL Predictions Week 10: Neil Reynolds takes on Asmir Begovic and Phoebe Schecter | NFL News

    first_imgNeil Reynolds is back in the hot seat for NFL predictions in Week 10, taking on AFC Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and Britain’s first-ever female NFL coach, Phoebe Schecter.Reynolds is of course representing Team NFL, while Schecter – who spent 11 months as a coaching intern with the Buffalo Bills from 2018-19 – is lending her talents to a Sky Sports team in need of points. Ravens @ PatriotsRavensRavensRavens 2:52 American football coach Phoebe Schecter discusses her coaching journey and time in the NFL with the Bills Week FiveRichard Graves 8Sky Rugby League 8Oli McBurnie 11 – Advertisement – NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund gives her Week 10 NFL predictions. Sign up to play NFL Pick’Em – Advertisement – Week TwoJeff Reinebold 15Warne/Hussain 10Anya Shrubsole 14 REYNOLDS PICKS: Ravens“I’m going with Baltimore in this game – a simple one for me – as, when the Patriots are having to dig deep to beat the Jets, it’s a worry.”SCHECTER PICKS: Ravens“I saw something which said the Patriots have a total of 16 players limited because of injury. So I have to go with the Ravens.“Plus, Lamar Jackson is amazing!”BEGOVIC PICKS: RavensMinnesota Vikings @ Chicago BearsMonday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL, Tuesday, 1.15am Bills @ CardinalsBillsBillsBills Buccaneers @ PanthersBuccaneersBuccaneersBuccaneers Week ThreeNeil Reynolds 11Golf Vodcast crew 10Thomas Bjørn 7 Week FourShaun Gayle 8NBA Heat Check 7Samantha Quek 8 American football coach Phoebe Schecter discusses her coaching journey and time in the NFL with the Bills REYNOLDS PICKS: Bills“Kyler Murray vs Josh Allen – this is a good one. I’m going to pick Buffalo to win on the road.”SCHECTER PICKS: Bills“I have to go with my Bills! It’s going to be a really exciting game though, because both offences can definitely put up points – I expect it to be high-scoring.“I feel like people still haven’t really bought into the Buffalo bandwagon, but they have been great on the road this year and I think that will help them going into Arizona.”BEGOVIC PICKS: BillsBaltimore Ravens @ New England PatriotsSunday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL, Monday, 1.20am Week SixRob Ryan 9Sky Sports Boxing 8Aaron Cresswell 7 Colts @ TitansTitansTitansColts Week EightJeff Reinebold 9Tamsin Greenway 6Darren Bent 8 NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund gives her Week 10 NFL predictions. Sign up to play NFL Pick’Em – Advertisement – Week SevenBrian Baldinger 10Caroline Barker 11Hannah Blundell 8 1:18 Dalvin Cook breaks free of the Lions defence to run in a massive 70-yard touchdown for the Vikings REYNOLDS PICKS: Vikings“I think the Vikings have found their formula; let Dalvin ‘Cook’. I’m going with Minnesota.SCHECTER PICKS: Vikings“This is an interesting one. Chicago is pretty solid against the run game, but Cook has been amazing this season, especially the last couple weeks.“I’m a big believer in momentum, and Minnesota have had two-straight victories, they’re on a roll right now.”BEGOVIC PICKS: Vikings“I’m also going with the Vikings as I don’t trust that offence of Chicago’s – it has looked stagnant, with a lack of ideas.“Minnesota are fighting hard after a slow start to the season – it shows that Mike Zimmer at the helm has created a really good, competitive culture.”Sky Sports NFL is your dedicated channel for NFL coverage through the season – featuring a host of NFL Network programming, a new weekly preview show as well as at least five games a week and NFL Redzone, you won’t miss a moment. Don’t forget to follow us on, our Twitter account @SkySportsNFL & Sky Sports – on the go! Bengals @ SteelersSteelersSteelersSteelers Philip Rivers and the Colts offence has been up and down during the 2020 season Philip Rivers and the Colts offence has been up and down during the 2020 season

  • iOS 14.3 Developer Beta Brings New Features Like ProRAW Format; Carries References of Apple Headphones, AirTags

    first_imgIt is important to note that ProRAW is limited to the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The format essentially combines Apple’s computational photography and multi-frame image processing along with the traditional benefits of the RAW format. This helps enhance image results and ease editing.Alongside ProRAW, the first iOS 14.3 beta brings the new Home app that lets you natively install software updates for third-party HomeKit accessories. This means that you won’t be required to go into the dedicated app of your HomeKit accessories to install their latest updates on your iPhone. The experience is as natural as installing updates for the HomePod through the Home app, 9to5Mac reports.The iOS 14.3 beta also includes Ecosia as a default search engine — alongside the existing options, namely Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. The new beta update also brings the ability to receive Cardio Fitness notifications through your Apple Watch. Apple had teased Low Cardio Fitness notifications for later this year. However, you just need iOS 14.3 on your iPhone and watchOS 7.2 on your Apple Watch to get the latest experience.- Advertisement – With iOS 14.3, Apple is also seen to have started suggesting third-party apps to users during the setup process of a new iPhone. 9to5Mac claims that the latest beta code contains clear evidence of the new change.Apple might not bring third-party app suggestions for all its users globally and implement the change for limited markets initially. The code reportedly says, “In compliance with regional legal requirements, continue to view available apps to download.” This may help the Cupertino company bargain better in the ongoing antitrust and anti-competitive lawsuits.The iOS 14.3 beta also includes an icon suggesting Apple’s over-ear headphones, 9to5Mac reports. The headphones icon was visible in a pairing video of the Find My app in the latest beta version, according to MacRumors contributing writer Steve Moser. Apple has released the first developer beta of iOS 14.3 that suggests a series of features coming to iPhone users. These include ProRAW photo format for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, a new Home app, and an option to consider Ecosia as a new default search option. The iOS 14.3 beta release also suggests Cardio Fitness notifications for Apple Watch users. Additionally, the new beta version includes references to Apple’s rumoured over-ear headphones as well as the much-anticipated AirTags.As reported by 9to5Mac, the first developer beta of iOS 14.3 brings the option to enable the ProRAW format. It can be accessed by going through Settings > Camera > Formats. Once enabled, a new RAW toggle will be visible on the upper-right corner of the Camera app. You will just need to tap that toggle to enable or disable the ProRAW format for your photos.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –center_img – Advertisement – Apple had previously suggested its new headphones, which are rumoured as AirPods Studio, through two distinct icons available in an early build of iOS 14. Those icons were available in black and white colours, suggesting the hues of the company’s rumoured in-house headphones.If we look at the rumour mill, Apple was expected to unveil its over-ear headphones with a retro look and oval-shaped ear cups. The headphones were slated to debut later this year, though there isn’t any official announcement confirming its launch.Alongside the headphones, the iOS 14.3 beta also includes evidence of the existence of the AirTags. There is a hidden section in the Find My app with a codename “Hawkeye” that could be for AirTags as well as third-party tracking accessories including Tile, says 9to5Mac.The Find My app on the latest iOS beta reportedly shows a guide to users to let them set up tracking tags on their accessories such as bags, suitcases, and key chains and find them directly through the Find My network.As per the details available through the code of the Find My app, users could be able to track their AirTags and other tracking tags even when offline using Bluetooth connectivity. Some sound alerts could also be produced to find lost items that are connected with the tracking tags. Further, the code suggested that AirTags in particular could be connected to an Apple ID for enhanced security.Details about the launch of AirTags are yet to be revealed. Nevertheless, the references available within the iOS 14.3 beta suggest that it could just be a matter of time before they are launched.Apple has just seeded iOS 14.3 beta to developers for testing purposes. However, there is no word on when the new update would reach the general public.Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.last_img read more

  • Fashion Jackson x Amazon Fall Collection — Hours Left to Shop

    first_img– Advertisement – Amy Jackson actually did a summer collection with The Drop back in June, but it went so well that she’s back for round two, this time with some gorgeous fall/winter pieces. What to expect? On her own blog, she wrote that “these pieces are elevated neutrals that can be mixed and matched with different bottoms and accessories to make each piece your very own.” Sounds good already, right? Now wait until you see them. We’ve picked out our three favorites to showcase below!This Puff Sleeve Sweatshirtfashion-jackson-the-drop-sweatshirtAmazonWe knew this sweatshirt would become an instant hit with shoppers. You get that crew neck comfiness we all adore but in an actually sophisticated design. You could wear this to lounge, sure — but it’s made to be shown off, whether with jeans or even tucked into a skirt. “I cannot resist a puff sleeve,” Jackson said about this piece. “I love how the extra detail elevates a garment. This green is the perfect shade to pair with neutral bottoms, and the puff sleeve detail makes it stand out from the rest.” It really is a universally-flattering shade, and even one that works for all seasons!- Advertisement – Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.Now, we don’t want you to panic or anything, but we need you to know that time is running out. There’s no need to run, but there is a need to get that mouse-clicking finger in order. You see, the second Fashion Jackson x The Drop collection has launched on Amazon, but anyone who’s shopped The Drop knows what that means — you have hours left to nab these made-to-order pieces before they’re gone forever!- Advertisement – “This midi dress might be my favorite,” Jackson wrote on her blog, and it’s hard to choose, but we may have to agree. It has all of the latest trends going on, but still manages to have a completely timeless style. It’s tiered with balloon ¾ sleeves, has a keyhole button closure in back and has a gorgeous flow to it. Plus, as Jackson wrote, it’s “so comfortable you will want to wear it every day”! See it!Get The Drop Women’s Black/Tan Polka-dot Tiered 3/4 Sleeve Midi Dress by @fashion_jackson for just $55 at Amazon with free shipping! Only available until 6 p.m. ET on November 13, 2020. Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 13, 2020, but are subject to change.This Ruffle Black Dressfashion-jackson-the-drop-black-dressAmazonLooking for a little black dress that works for fall and winter? This is how it’s done! With long sleeves and a medium-weight fabric, this dress will be a standout in the cold, and it won’t leave you freezing your toes off. The ruffle details at the shoulders are everything, as is this piece’s versatility. Jackson compared it to “a blank canvas,” noting how many ways it can be worn. A couple of ideas? “Dress it up with sparkly jewelry and a red lip for the holidays, or wear it on its own for a chic, minimalist look.” See it!Get The Drop Women’s Black Ruffle-Shoulder Tiered Midi Dress by @fashion_jackson for just $55 at Amazon with free shipping! Only available until 6 p.m. ET on November 13, 2020. Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 13, 2020, but are subject to change.Want to see the rest? Shop all of The Drop here and don’t forget to check out all of Amazon’s Daily Deals for more great finds!Check out more of our picks and deals here!This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as face masks, self tanners, Lululemon-style leggings and all the best gifts for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at Happy shopping! See it!Get The Drop Women’s Olive Puff Sleeve Sweatshirt by @fashion_jackson for just $45 at Amazon with free shipping! Only available until 6 p.m. ET on November 13, 2020. Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 13, 2020, but are subject to change.This Polka Dot Dressfashion-jackson-the-drop-polka-dot-dressAmazon- Advertisement –last_img read more

  • Vietnam seeks help in avian flu battle

    first_imgFeb 4, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Vietnam, mired in a renewed avian influenza outbreak that has led to the death of 12 people and the culling of roughly 1 million poultry since Dec 30, 2004, asked the international community for help this week.In a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), acting Vietnamese Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat sought technical help to combat the H5N1 avian flu, the New York Times reported yesterday.Vietnam is seeking foreign specialists in epidemiology, pathology, toxicology, and veterinary medicine as well as lab technicians and equipment, Anton M. Rychener, FAO representative in Vietnam, told the Times. The country has lifted restrictions imposed on foreign assistance in 2004.Vietnam’s request was one of several steps in recent days to improve Southeast Asia’s defenses against avian flu. The FAO announced yesterday it would offer $1.6 million in emergency aid to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Pakistan. (Data from the World Organization for Animal Health [OIE] indicate Pakistan has not reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu since January 2004.)The FAO’s technical assistance is aimed at capacity building. It will help countries with plans for culling, training farmers and government workers on culling and disinfection, rapid diagnosis, and mapping out epidemiologic studies, according to an FAO news release from Bangkok yesterday. Additional supplies include protective gear, lab supplies, and rapid-testing equipment.”These projects are seed money for immediate help,” said He Changchui, head of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, in the news release. “More international assistance is needed to enable poorer countries to better deal with the crisis.”FAO and OIE call for aidThe FAO and the OIE on Feb 1 issued a joint statement urging the international community to help poorer countries with avian flu prevention and containment.”Avian influenza is an ongoing emergency disease that spreads across borders. It has serious implications for the public and animal health sector in the affected countries,” the statement read. The new cases this year show that the virus remains endemic in Asia.Affected countries must stop the spread of the virus by containing it in rural areas, the statement said. The organizations recommended that countries strengthen veterinary infrastructure, improve control strategies, bolster biosecurity, modernize industry practices, and vaccinate poultry where appropriate.The recent tsunami may worsen the spread of avian flu because the shift in food supply may increase the movement of poultry, the statement said. FAO said it would send an expert mission to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives this week to assess livestock and rehabilitation needs.Europeans this week offered help to Vietnam fight avian flu. The European Union pledged to give Vietnam 600,000 euros ($772,403) to buy equipment through the WHO, according to a story published online in Voice of Vietnam this week. The contribution is 400,000 euros ($514,859) less than the EU gave during the avian flu outbreak last year.Experts from the WHO, FAO, and OIE are in the second day of a 2-day meeting at FAO headquarters in Rome. In consultation with veterinary experts from 14 countries, several veterinary officers from Asian countries are participating via teleconference, the FAO said. The goal is to set policies and strategies to control the disease and develop plans for animal and human health.Thailand announces spending planIn other developments, the Thai government announced last week it would spend 4.8 billion baht ($124.7 million) to combat avian flu.The scope of Vietnam’s outbreak pushed Thai authorities to adopt the new measures, the head of Thailand’s National Avian Influenza Control Center said, as quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Jan 26. Although details were sketchy, authorities planned to prepare 150,000 doses of the antiviral drug oseltamivir, which may limit the severity of human avian flu illness.The plan also includes preparing additional hospital beds and converting other facilities such as schools into hospitals if needed, AFP reported.In Laos, authorities have stepped up hygiene efforts at borders and on farms to thwart the spread of avian flu, according to an AFP story today. Each province has its own avian flu task force, in addition to three mobile teams in the country, said Dr. Syseng Khounsy, deputy director of the national animal health department.”We haven’t detected any bird flu infection but we are still investigating,” he said in the AFP story. An FAO official had earlier announced that the agency had found no signs of avian flu in Laos.In addition, the Provincial Bureau of Health in Guangzhou, China, yesterday issued an emergency notice urging authorities to prevent an avian flu outbreak.No outbreaks have occurred in any of the mainland poultry farms and processing plants that supply poultry products to Hong Kong or Macao, the State Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine said yesterday, according to a report published by China Daily today. Border checks and crackdowns on illegal animal imports have been increased in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as well as in Yunnan Province on the Vietnamese border, the paper said.”Despite no bird flu cases having been reported in human beings and animals in Guangdong this year, we must take effective preventive measures to stop the fatal virus from entering and spreading in the province,” the paper quoted an unidentified health official as saying. Poultry sent to Hong Kong also must pass strict inspections.See also:FAO’s announcement of $1.6 million in aid 1 FAO/OIE statement read more

  • US boosts medical stockpile for flu pandemic

    first_img HHS news release “These purchases build on the department’s plans to buy enough vaccine for 20 million people and enough antivirals for another 20 million people,” the HHS announcement said. The doses will be stored in the Strategic National Stockpile for use in the event of a pandemic. Zanamivir comes in a powder that is inhaled, while oseltamivir is sold in capsules. In the United States, zanamivir is licensed for treatment of flu in people aged 7 years and older; oseltamivir can be used to treat patients from the age of 1 year and can also be used to prevent flu in patients older than 12 years. Zanamivir is not approved for preventive use. The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a $100 million contract to Sanofi Pasteur for an unspecified number of doses of vaccine for the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. The virus has killed more than 60 people in Asia and is considered likely to trigger a flu pandemic. Sanofi made 2 million doses of the vaccine under a previous contract with HHS. Zanamivir and oseltamivir make up the class of antivirals called neuraminidase inhibitors, which block an enzyme that allows flu viruses to leave a host cell. When used within the first two days of flu symptoms, they make the illness less severe and shorten its course by about a day. He said no decision has been made on whether vaccine or antivirals from the US stockpile could be used to help snuff out an emerging pandemic overseas, should the need arise. “I think those issues are being discussed at very high levels,” he said. Hall declined to say how many people the vaccine contract would cover on the basis of two 90-microgram doses per person. “We know that microgram number is going to decrease,” possibly by adding an adjuvant to the vaccine, he said. “Until we’ve gotten a lot of the research done and have a better understanding of what the optimal formulation and dosage will be, it’s not in anyone’s interest to speculate on a number.” “However, further clinical testing is underway, including the evaluation of techniques that may reduce the amount of antigen (active ingredient) per dose needed to achieve effective individual protection,” the HHS statement said. Today’s announcement follows two previous HHS contract awards to Sanofi Pasteur (formerly Aventis Pasteur) for the H5N1 vaccine. The company won a contract in May 2004 to make about 8,000 doses for clinical trials; in September 2004 it signed a $13 million contract to make 2 million doses for use by health and emergency workers and to prepare for possible mass production. Jun 17, 2005, CIDRAP News story “IDSA say US antiviral supply for flu falls far short” See also: Sep 21, 2004, CIDRAP News story “HHS awards contract for H5N1 avian flu vaccine” Disease experts have repeatedly warned that the world’s supplies of antivirals and capacity for producing vaccine are far from adequate for coping with a flu pandemic. For example, in June, the Infectious Diseases Society of America said the United States should have an antiviral stockpile large enough to treat 52 million to 84 million people and to use preventively in 15 million to 40 million more. Hall said the current goal of having enough antiviral medicatioin to treat 20 million people and enough vaccine doses to cover another 20 million was announced by Leavitt in July and was based on current manufacturing capacity and other factors. HHS said it has already received the zanamivir. The vaccine contract calls for Sanofi to make the vaccine at its plant in Pennsylvania between now and late October, the company said in a news release. Similarly, Osterholm called the zanamivir purchase a good first step. He said there is no guarantee that the neuraminidase inhibitors will be effective in battling a pandemic flu virus if the virus triggers a “cytokine storm,” or immune system overreaction. “These countermeasures provide us with tools that we have never had prior to previous influenza pandemics,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt commented in the HHS release. Infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, called the HHS purchases “a critical first step.” He said the H5N1 strain used in the vaccine, which dates from last year, “will not be the strain that ultimately circulates” in a pandemic. But the vaccine “could serve as an important priming dose in a two-dose series,” in which the second dose would (it is hoped) be more closely matched to the pandemic virus, he said. In addition, HHS said it has paid $2.8 million for enough doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s antiviral drug zanamivir (Relenza) to treat 84,300 people. The purchase adds to an existing stockpile of about 4.3 million treatment courses of Roche’s oseltamivir (Tamiflu), HHS spokesman Bill Hall told CIDRAP News. CDC information on flu antivirals Sep 15, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The federal government is spending about $103 million to boost its small supplies of avian influenza vaccine and antiviral drugs to battle a possible flu pandemic, health officials announced today. “This sets the platform for much additional work that will need to be completed if we are to aggressively respond to the future pandemic of influenza,” said Osterholm, director of CIDRAP, publisher of this Web site. “What we need to do now is fill the gap between this limited amount of vaccine and trying to stop a pandemic that would require vaccinating 6.5 billion people.” However, he said, “The only thing we can do right now is attempt to stockpile as much antiviral medication as we can. . . . If neuraminidase inhibitors are clinically effective, we’ll ultimately need a quantum leap in production and stockpiling, as opposed to incremental increases.” How many people the vaccine would cover is still to be determined by ongoing clinical trials, HHS said. In the first clinical trial of the vaccine, researchers found that it took two 90-microgram doses to stimulate what was regarded as an adequate immune response. That’s about 12 times the 15-microgram dose contained in a typical seasonal flu shot.last_img read more

  • British blame leaky drain for foot-and-mouth outbreak

    first_img The existing drain has been relined and manhole covers have been sealed, pending the construction of a new drainage system for the laboratories, DEFRA reported. In an epidemiologic report that accompanied the findings, DEFRA officials wrote that a surge of rainfall on July 20 and two of the following days could have compromised the drainage system. “This effluent might have contained ‘packets’ of virus contained in the cellular debris, which was discharged from the vaccine production containment facility,” the report states. DEFRA officials had previously linked the outbreaks to a leak from FMD laboratories near Pirbright where a commercial vaccine producer and a government-funded research institute share a facility. The reports released today were produced by the government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and independent consultant Brian Spratt, a professor of molecular microbiology at Imperial College in London. DEFRA today also published its response to the reports, outlining several steps it will take to remedy problems at the Pirbright facility and prevent similar problems at other facilities that work with pathogens. DEFRA epidemiological report “Even in these extraordinary circumstances, this should not have happened and must not happen again,” Benn said. “That is why we are taking every possible precaution to prevent this from happening again.” Final HSE report on FMD outbreak The United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) today released two final investigative reports on FMD outbreaks in late July at two farms in Surrey, which led to the slaughter of 570 animals. The outbreaks were the first in Britain since 2001, when widespread FMD outbreaks devastated the country’s cattle industry. Debby Reynolds, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said in the press release that she was satisfied that FMD had been eradicated from Surrey and that the 10-km surveillance zone and other remaining restrictions would be lifted at noon tomorrow. Sep 7 HSE press release on final FMD report Aug 7 CIDRAP News story “Report: Lab leak likely caused UK foot-and-mouth outbreak”center_img However, DEFRA said in the press release that it would go beyond the HSE recommendation and require the laboratories to use additional heat treatment systems and other preventive measures to sterilize the waste within a high-containment area. The department said it would not remove licensing restrictions from the labs until such systems are in place. See also: DEFRA also announced it ordered a review the government’s regulatory framework for animal pathogens and advised other laboratories to ensure they are following procedures already in place to avoid similar pathogen leaks. Construction trucks at the Pirbright site, which were not washed or disinfected before leaving the area, could have picked up contaminated soil on their tires and wheel wells and transferred the FMD virus to roads near the first farm that reported FMD cases, the report said. Sep 7, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Britain’s recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) were likely caused by faulty wastewater drains at a laboratory facility, which contaminated soil that was then spread by trucks to a nearby cattle farm, British authorities announced today. Hilary Benn, secretary of state for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, said in a press release today that the reports reveal that experts aren’t absolutely certain about how the outbreak occurred and haven’t identified a single cause. Genetic sequencing tests on virus samples from both of the affected farms suggested that the infection at the second farm came from the first farm, the investigators found. Though officials said faulty drain pipes were probably to blame for the FMD virus leak, investigators also found other problems at the Pirbright facilities, including several biosecurity breaches, such as inadequately monitored worker and vehicle movement and incomplete recordkeeping. The HSE report recommended that DEFRA review the practice of using chemical treatments to sterilize liquid waste containing high-risk pathogens. Investigators reported that when the Pirbright lab workers dispose of liquid waste, they flush it into a discard tank with citric acid wash, then pump the fluid into an effluent tank where it is mixed with sodium hydroxide to kill the virus.last_img read more

  • Rand releases midseason flu vaccination status report

    first_imgDec 10, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Rand Corp. today released its first-ever midseason survey on the uptake of the current influenza vaccine, which found that public officials still have a tall task in front of them to administer this year’s record vaccine supply.The survey indicated that about 30% of US adults had received a flu shot by mid November, but more than half of those surveyed said they didn’t plan to get the immunization.In a teleconference with journalists today, representatives from public health groups including the National Vaccine Summit were on hand to comment on the report’s findings. William Schaffner, MD, president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said, “This is a first-time opportunity to give ourselves a report card in the middle of the season, and we’ll do what we have to do to improve uptake.” He also chairs the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.The release of the study is among several nationwide initiatives this week to support National Influenza Vaccination Week, designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to raise public awareness of the importance of flu vaccination and to urge providers to extend their vaccination efforts into December and through the rest of the flu season.A timely status reportKatherine Harris, a Rand economist and coauthor of the survey report, said the goal of the report wasn’t just to gauge uptake; investigators also wanted to know if people were intending to get the flu shot this season, and if not, why not. A link to the 6-page report, along with supporting documents on the survey and its methodology, is available on Rand’s Web site.”This report provides the public health community with a midseason snapshot while there’s still time to act,” she said. The survey was conducted with funding from GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Fluarix and FluLaval influenza vaccines.The nationally representative survey included 3,969 adults (age 18 and older). Rand worked with Knowledge Networks, Inc., which conducts online studies with subjects recruited using random-digit dialing. Harris said the survey was administered to 6,056 online panelists between Nov 7 and Nov 19. Sixty-six percent of the group completed the survey.She said the Rand investigators pushed the limits of timely data gathering and were able to wrap up the details, including internal peer review, only 2 weeks after the survey’s Nov 19 conclusion date.Vaccination season takes shapeThe survey showed that 30% of the respondents had already been vaccinated, 17% said they planned to receive a flu shot, and 53% said they had no intention of doing so.Among respondents in groups recommended for vaccination, such as people older than 50 or with a high-risk condition, 37% said they had been vaccinated. But the percentage of those respondents who said they planned to be vaccinated was the same as in the overall group at 17%.”What we’re seeing here are huge opportunities for improvement,” Harris said. Schaffner added that he found the findings “sobering,” but he said a silver lining was the higher uptake among the higher-risk groups.About 30% of healthcare workers and caregivers reported receiving their flu vaccine, but 57% said they didn’t intend to get one. Schaffner said he hoped that low uptake and intent numbers in this group reflect the possibility that some healthcare institutions were still conducting their vaccination programs when the survey was taken.L.J. Tan, PhD, director of infectious diseases for the American Medical Association (AMA), said only 13% of the healthcare and caretaker group intended to be vaccinated. “We’ve got a lot of work to do here,” he said.Investigators explored vaccine uptake patterns so far among different chronic-disease groups. Those reporting receiving their vaccines ranged from 33% among asthma patients to 63% of respondents with chronic lung disease. Tan said that even those numbers show the need for more outreach to those with high-risk medical conditions.Vaccine uptake did not vary much across the country, according to the report. Schaffner called the numbers “wimpy across the board. We can’t celebrate or ding any part of the country.”Reasons for forgoing flu shotsThe research group also explored the reasons people haven’t yet gotten their flu shots. Forty-one percent said they didn’t have time, and 35% gave other reasons. Tan said he was concerned about the lack-of-time rationale. “It’s a cultural perception that this isn’t high on people’s priority list. If it was, they would find the time,” he said.Reasons for deciding not to get a flu shot included a perceived lack of need (25%), beliefs against flu shots (20%), fear of sickness or side effects (19%), and the belief that others need it more (8%). About 28% gave various other reasons, some of which included lack of physician recommendation and cost. Schaffner said the findings reveal that public health officials still have a lot of work to do to debunk popular myths about influenza vaccination.Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said the survey findings serve as a wake-up call and validate what public health officials are seeing in the field. She urged healthcare providers and the public health community to remind the public that plenty of vaccine is available, and to use the holiday season to persuade patients to give their families and loved ones the gift of prevention by getting vaccinated.MedImmune donates 1 million FluMist dosesIn other developments, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) today announced that MedImmune, maker of the FluMist influenza vaccine, is donating up to 1 million doses of the inhaled vaccine in an effort to boost awareness about influenza and vaccination rates in underserved communities.NACCHO said it would funnel the donated vaccine to selected state and local health departments starting this month.Gary Cox, JD, president of NACCHO, said in a press release today, “These doses of vaccine will go a long way to support a national objective of immunizing all persons who should receive flu vaccine, especially those who are least able to afford it.”See also:Rand midseason influenza vaccination survey and supporting documentsDec 10 NACCHO press releaselast_img read more