Donors and Drug Makers Offer $500 Million to Control Global Epidemics

           

A child born with microcephaly caused by the Zika virus, during an evaluation at Fundação Altino Ventura in Recife, Brazil. A group of prominent donors announced Wednesday that they had raised almost $500 million for a new partnership to stop epidemics before they spiral out of control. Credit Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

nytimes.com - by DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. - January 18, 2017

Stung by the lack of vaccines to fight the West African Ebola epidemic, a group of prominent donors announced Wednesday that they had raised almost $500 million for a new partnership to stop epidemics before they spiral out of control.

The partnership, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, will initially develop and stockpile vaccines against three known viral threats, and also push the development of technology to brew large amounts of vaccine quickly when new threats, like the Zika virus, arise.

With enough money and scientific progress, the strategy could bring a drastic change in the way the world tackles pandemics.

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DNA-Testing Smartphone Aims to Tackle Drugs Resistance

submitted by Alicia Juarrero

           

UCLA, STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY AND UPPSALA UNIVERSITY

CLICK HERE - Nature Communications - Targeted DNA sequencing and in situ mutation analysis using mobile phone microscopy

bbc.com - by Leo Kelion - January 18, 2017

Scientists have built a DNA-analysing smartphone attachment that is a fraction of the cost of lab-based kit.

The creators of the phone-powered pathology microscope believe it could be mass produced for less than $500 (£406) a unit.

They say it could help doctors treat cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases more effectively than is sometimes possible in the developing world.

But a UK firm says it is developing a more advanced and cheaper alternative.

Details of the peer-reviewed project are published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Climate Change and Mass Migration: a Growing Threat to Global Security

           

Photo: Farid Ahmed/IRIN

irinnews.org - by Jared Ferrie - January 19, 2017

When international leaders met in the Bangladeshi capital last month for ongoing discussions about a new global migration policy, they glossed over what experts say will soon become a massive driver of migration: climate change . . .

. . . Groups like the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration, are well aware of the risks, and say they are working to bring climate change to the forefront of policy discussions . . .

. . . It’s difficult to say exactly how many people around the world will be forced to move as the effects of climate change grow starker in the coming decades. But mass displacement is already happening as climate change contributes to natural disasters such as desertification, droughts, floods, and powerful storms.

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CLICK HERE - 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement

ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLES AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION WITHIN THE LINKS BELOW . . .

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A Woman Was Killed by a Superbug Resistant to All 26 American Antibiotics

           

The Klebsiella pneumoniae organism in a petri dish.  GARY CAMERON / REUTERS

CLICK HERE - STUDY - CDC - MMWR - Notes from the Field: Pan-Resistant New Delhi Metallo-Beta-Lactamase-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae — Washoe County, Nevada, 2016

No Antibiotic In The U.S. Could Save This Woman. We Should All Be Worried.

This is one of the first cases of a pan-resistant infection in America.

huffingtonpost.com - by Anna Almendraia - January 13, 2017

The recent death of a woman in Reno, Nevada, from an infection resistant to every available kind of antibiotic in the U.S. highlights how serious the threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has become. 

Experts say that while cases of a bacteria resistant to all antibiotics are still extremely rare in the U.S., we should expect to see more in the future. 

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Cuba, United States Sign Oil Spill Deal

           

Cuba, United States sign oil spill deal before Trump inauguration

reuters.com - by Marc Frank - January 10, 2017

Cuba and the United States agreed on Monday to jointly prevent, contain and clean up oil and other toxic spills in the Gulf of Mexico . . .

 . . . U.S. Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis, upon signing the agreement, said it was one of a series of deals to protect the shared marine environment of the two neighboring countries separated by just 90 miles (145 km) of water . . . 

 . . . Last week a deal was struck to export small amounts of charcoal to the United States and in December Google signed an agreement to place servers on the island to quicken access to its products.

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U.S. Grid in ‘Imminent Danger’ From Cyber-Attack, Study Says

           

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Threats to U.S. electrical grid are more sophisticated - Increase in smart grid technology increasing vulnerability

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Transforming the Nation’s Electricity System - The Second Installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review - January 2017

bloomberg.com - by Ari Natter and Mark Chediak - January 6, 2017

The U.S. Energy Department says the electricity system "faces imminent danger" from cyber-attacks, which are growing more frequent and sophisticated, but grid operators say they are already on top of the problem.

In the department’s landmark Quadrennial Energy Review, it warned that a widespread power outage caused by a cyber-attack could undermine "critical defense infrastructure" as well as much of the economy and place at risk the health and safety of millions of citizens.

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Weak Federal Powers Could Limit Trump’s Climate-Policy Rollback

A wind farm in Pomeroy, Iowa. The wind power industry is booming in the United States, with wind-farm technician projected to be the country’s fastest-growing occupation over the next decade. Credit Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Image: A wind farm in Pomeroy, Iowa. The wind power industry is booming in the United States, with wind-farm technician projected to be the country’s fastest-growing occupation over the next decade. Credit Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

nytimes.com - January 2nd 2017 - Justin Gillis

With Donald J. Trump about to take control of the White House, it would seem a dark time for the renewable energy industry. After all, Mr. Trump has mocked the science of global warming as a Chinese hoax, threatened to kill a global deal on climate change and promised to restore the coal industry to its former glory.

So consider what happened in the middle of December, after investors had had a month to absorb the implications of Mr. Trump’s victory. 

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The world today looks ominously like it did before World War I

Industrial Age factory and railway engraving. (Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Image: Industrial Age factory and railway engraving. (Washington Post illustration; iStock)

washingtonpost.com - December 29th 2016 - Ana Swanson

A backlash to globalization appears to be gaining strength around the world. U.S. politicians on both the right and left have called for curbing free trade deals they say benefit foreigners or the global elite. President-elect Donald Trump has championed tariffs on imports and limits on immigration, and suggested withdrawing from international alliances and trade agreements. 

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Mexico’s Climate Migrants are Already Coming to the United States

           

Guanajuato, Mexico - Russ Bowling

grist.org - by Amy McDermott - December 29, 2016

 . . . Mexico’s climate story reflects a growing global problem. Worsening droughts, floods, wildfires, and rising seas will drive millions from their homes, all around the world.

From Mexico to China, Bangladesh to Senegal, climate migrants everywhere will relocate to the nearest safe place, says sociologist Cristina Bradatan, also of Texas Tech. Sometimes that means crossing borders . . .

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El Niño and Global Warming Blamed for Zika Spread

           

A female Aedes albopictus mosquito feeding on a human host. Credit: James Gathany CDC

CLICK HERE - STUDY - PNAS - Global risk model for vector-borne transmission of Zika virus reveals the role of El Niño 2015

scientificamerican.com - by Kavya Balaraman - December 21, 2016

Mosquito-borne diseases like Zika can be extremely sensitive to climatic changes

The combination of climate change and last year’s El Niño phenomenon likely created the perfect playground for the Zika virus to spread rapidly across South America, a new study finds.

Both the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that carry it have been present in different parts of the world for a while. But several factors, including specific climatic conditions, could have catapulted the disease to public health emergency status, according to researchers from the University of Liverpool.

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How Hospitals, Nursing Homes Keep Lethal ‘Superbug’ Outbreaks Secret

        

The deadly epidemic America is ignoring - The Uncounted - A REUTERS INVESTIGATION

reuters.com - by Deborah J. Nelson, David Rohde, Benjamin Lesser and Ryan McNeill - December 22, 2016

Across the U.S., vague rules give healthcare providers lots of leeway in deciding when, or even whether, to report unusual clusters of infections. And when they do alert officials, that information is usually kept from the public . . .

 . . . An examination of cases across the country reveals a system that protects the healthcare facilities where superbugs thrive, while leaving patients, their families and the broader public ignorant of potentially deadly threats.

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World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind

           

Emerging markets are leapfrogging the developed world thanks to cheap panels.

bloomberg.com - by Tom Randall - December 15, 2016

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity. 

This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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President Obama Bans Oil Drilling in Large Areas of Atlantic and Arctic Oceans

           

Hundreds of kayaktivists protest drilling in the Arctic and the Port of Seattle being used as a port for the Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via Associated Press)

washingtonpost.com - by Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin - December 20, 2016

President Obama moved to solidify his environmental legacy Tuesday by withdrawing hundreds of millions of acres of federally owned land in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean from new offshore oil and gas drilling.

Obama used a little-known law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia. In addition to a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic, removing the canyons from drilling puts much of the eastern seaboard off limits to oil exploration even if companies develop plans to operate around them.

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Birth Defects Among Fetuses and Infants of US Women With Evidence of Possible Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy

jamanetwork.com - December 13, 2016 - doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19006

In this report based on preliminary data for pregnant women in the USZPR with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection, 6% overall had a fetus or infant with evidence of a Zika-related birth defect, and among women with timing of possible Zika infection exclusively during the first trimester, 11% had a fetus or infant with a birth defect. The birth defects primarily involved included microcephaly with brain abnormalities, such as intracranial calcifications. Preliminary estimates from the USZPR were within the range of 1% to 13% risk of microcephaly following first-trimester maternal Zika virus infection modeled on the outbreak in Bahia, Brazil, lending support to the credibility of these estimates.

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Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge In Appalachia

Radiologist Brandon Crum and former coal miner Mackie Branham, 39, view an X-ray of Branham's diseased lung at Crum's black lung clinic in Coal Run Village, Ky. Howard Berkes/NPR

Image: Radiologist Brandon Crum and former coal miner Mackie Branham, 39, view an X-ray of Branham's diseased lung at Crum's black lung clinic in Coal Run Village, Ky. Howard Berkes/NPR

npr.org - December 15th 2016 -  Howard Berkes

Across Appalachia, coal miners are suffering from the most serious form of the deadly mining disease black lung in numbers more than 10 times what federal regulators report, an NPR investigation has found.

The government, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reported 99 cases of "complicated" black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, throughout the country the last five years.

But NPR obtained data from 11 black lung clinics in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which reported a total of 962 cases so far this decade.

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