Feb 18, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee today recommended that pharmaceutical companies use one new influenza strain, the B component, in next season’s flu vaccine.The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted to follow the lead of the World Health Organization (WHO), which last week recommended replacing the influenza B strain in this year’s vaccine, which is from the Yamagata lineage, to one from the Victoria lineage, said Karen Reilly, an FDA spokeswoman. The WHO and the FDA panel recommended that the two influenza A strains for the Northern Hemisphere remain the same.Reilly told CIDRAP News that the votes on retaining the current influenza A/H1N1 and A/H3N2 strains were unanimous. However, the vote on changing the influenza B strain was 14 to 0 with one abstention.The flu vaccine is reformulated each year in an attempt to match ever-evolving virus strains. The WHO and FDA recommend the strains for the vaccine in February, allowing companies enough time to grow the viruses in chicken eggs and process them into vaccine doses. Most years the vaccine is protective, but last flu season all three strains in the vaccine were a poor match for circulating viruses, and the WHO and FDA recommended changing all three strains for this season.The influenza B component of this year’s flu vaccine was from the Yamagata lineage, but the proportion of strains from the Victoria lineage continues to increase and has become predominant in many countries, including the United States.The WHO and now the FDA committee recommend the following for next season’s vaccine:For the H1N1 component, a strain similar to A/Brisbane/59/2007For the H3N2 component, a strain similar to A/Brisbane/10/2007For the B component, a strain similar to B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus, replacing B/Florida/4/2006Reilly said the committee discussed recommending the addition of a second B strain to the vaccine, but did not vote on the measure. Health officials in the United States have discussed including both lineages in the seasonal vaccine to address the unpredictable circulation of the influenza B strains, given that a vaccine against one lineage offers little protection against the other.Some of the committee members said there was not enough research yet to support adding a second B strain lineage, she said.See also:Feb 13 CIDRAP News story “WHO picks new B strain for 2009-10 flu vaccine”Jan 16 CIDRAP News story “Experts consider 4-strain flu vaccine to fight B viruses”
For innovation and big ideas, the US is clearly leading, but it is Asia – particularly China – that is coming second, not Europe. China has many things going for it. For VC, it is very helpful to have a market that is huge and easy to scale. That has always been one big advantage of the US over Europe, and it remains so. It is much easier to scale a company in the US, which is one homogeneous market, than in Europe.China has the largest market in terms of people and economic potential, and that is a big plus. If you look at technologies like mobile phones – the number of users, for example – China is leading and will always be leading. The US only has 400m people and won’t be able to catch up, Rode feels.What is coming out of China so far is predominantly on the hardware side. Most of the smart devices and some of the e-players come out of China. In future, we will see much more activity on the software side and in other areas such as life sciences. What is required is strong government support with government-funded research and strong educational institutions. All of these things are in place in China, plus it is a big market and already very strong in technology.The other Asian giant, India, is at a different stage of development, still 10 years behind China. Yet India also has many things that are very positive. Rode also sees huge long-term potential for India. It is currently the fastest-growing large economy, with great demographics and many well-educated, English-speaking people. Its strength in software shows India will play a huge role in VC in 10-20 years.Where does that leave Europe? It certainly has the potential to produce disruptive technologies, but it hasn’t converted them into many large-scale businesses as yet. The culture within universities has certainly changed from my days doing research in physics at Oxford 30 years ago, when trying to generate commercial applications from research was actually frowned upon. But what has not developed is the risk-taking culture present in the US, where it is seen as acceptable to start something, fail and start again.If you look at Europe, says Rode, there are some things that work – all types of locally focused companies, e-commerce and services including fintech. Life sciences are also strong. One area that is niche but works well in Europe is medical devices. This is helped by the regulatory environment, as it is easier to get approval for medical devices in Europe than in the US.Venture funds are driven by the biggest hits. Historically, 7% of VC deals represent 50% of exits. Being in the biggest hits is very important, and, in the US, the biggest hits are much bigger companies than elsewhere – a $1bn or more.In Europe, exit values tend to be lower. That is related to the fact there are more breakthrough technologies in the US that have the potential to create mega companies in the multi-billion valuation range. But European companies also tend to be exited earlier than US ones, Rode finds. That, he says, has to do with attitudes, ambitions and cultural elements. European founders and investors are happy with smaller outcomes, so the bar of what is considered to be a big success is higher in the US than Europe.There is a lot of support in helping VC funds in Europe. The EIF is an active investor in many funds, and that is a factor that has increased the number of funds in Europe. But, as Rode argues, the area where the biggest change is necessary and difficult to achieve (it may take 20 years) is with regard to breakthrough innovation.It’s a pity Europe is lagging so much. Any improvement in venture activity in any region will take a long time to put into place. Any measure from a government and regulatory point of view requires a 10-20 year time horizon. You cannot change the ecosystem, the cultural set-up, the educational system and the government funding of research in a few years. Indeed, any changes that shift things radically in just a few years may be unsustainable. For Europe’s long-term future, it needs to find a sustainable solution.Joseph Mariathasan is a contributing editor at IPE European VC may be on the rise, but it still lacks the big ideas, writes Joseph MariathasanVenture capital (VC) should be a key driving force in revitalising the European economies, and, to some extent, that is happening. Exit activity, globally and in Europe, has been good, which gives investors confidence that VC works.Performance has been good, Adveq’s Nils Rode tells me, but he also raises an issue worth exploring. While venture activity in Europe may be increasing dramatically, Europe appears to be falling behind in one key area – investing in big ideas, the breakthrough innovations and highly disruptive companies that are the areas most talked about in the media, and rightly so. That part of VC is mostly taking place in the US.As Rode explains, in new areas such as machine learning or artificial intelligence, the US is clearly in the lead. On the life sciences side, about 40% of investments are about treating and curing cancer, and there have been some recent breakthroughs in fully curing cancers. A large part of that is taking place in the US, with some in Europe. Quantum computing, where Google announced a recent breakthrough in December showing it works, is all taking place in the US. Advances in robotics are all taking place in the US. Investments in space technology such as Space X is all US, along with electric cars such as Tesla.
Stuff co.nz 6 November 2016Family First Comment: “This meant some people are being left in potentially abusive and unsafe environments, she said.”Imagine how much worse it would get if we had assisted suicide laws….A serious shortfall in funding to address elder abuse in New Zealand needs to be fixed immediately, says the boss of Age Concern.Stephanie Clare, Age Concern chief executive, said services across the country are either under funded or non-existent, which is putting older people at risk.“There are large areas of New Zealand where people do not have access to an elder abuse prevention service,” she said.This meant some people are being left in potentially abusive and unsafe environments, she said.Clare’s call comes in the wake of a horrific case of elder neglect, which resulted in a Taranaki couple being jailed for two years and nine months when they were sentenced last month.Terrence and Erica Heppell pleaded guilty to the ill-treatment of their mother who was found by ambulance staff lying in her own waste, with several untreated sores on her body and a dislocated shoulder. She was also extremely unkempt, with dirty skin, nails and clothing.Authorities were only alerted to the woman’s plight after the Heppells finally called for help, thinking she was on the brink of death.Minister for Senior Citizens Maggie Barry said the Government contracted 27 services around New Zealand to provide specialist elder abuse and neglect services, to the tune of about $1.9 million a year.Barry said the services dealt with about 2000 cases of elder abuse each year.READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/86146116/Funding-shortfall-for-NZs-elder-abuse-sector-putting-people-at-risk?cid=app-iPhone
Indiana Lt. governor Suzanne Crouch upgraded to a Real ID at the Indiana State Fair recently.Beginning in October of 2020, Americans will be required to have the enhanced identification to board flights or enter certain federal facilities.What is Real ID? Congress passed the Real ID Act after a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission. The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.As early as January of 2018 domestic air travelers that have a license issued by a state that is not compliant with Real ID they must have an alternate form of identification. The Transportation Security Authority has a list of acceptable forms of ID here tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.To upgrade to Real ID residents must visit a BMV branch and provide a social security number, lawful U.S. residency status and Indiana residency.“The Indiana State Fair is a Hoosier tradition that attracts residents from around the state,” said Lt. Governor Crouch. “I’m here today to demonstrate the ease with which Hoosiers can upgrade to a Real ID now to save time and avoid confusion in the future.“We are excited Lt. Governor Crouch is setting an example for all Hoosiers,” said BMV Commissioner Peter Lacy. “To do it at our mobile branch at the State Fair is added bonus.”More information is online at in.gov/bmv/2356.htm.