Johannes Jansson via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5 dk
Johannes Jansson via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5 dk

New Global Consortium Aims to Create and Stockpile New Vaccines

Johannes Jansson via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5 dk
Johannes Jansson via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5 dk

An international coalition of researchers and public health officials have created a billion-dollar initiative to create and stockpile vaccines in the hope of preventing future epidemics. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) launched January 18 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

CEPI’s mission is simple: to prevent epidemics in the future by creating and amassing effective vaccines now. Vaccine development is a slow process, often requiring 10 or more years of research and testing before they’re ready and safe for human use.

But as we learned during the West African Ebola outbreak of 2013, disease epidemics don’t give us 10 years to catch up. Researchers were able to adapt existing experimental drugs to produce an effective vaccine in record time. Even that was too long to wait.

Jeremy Farrar is director of the Wellcome Trust, one of CEPI’s backing organizations. He remembers the 2013 outbreak with dismay. “We had to spend what was 9–12 months getting safety data for those vaccines, and that was 9–12 months where ultimately many people lost their lives,” he told Nature.

CEPI aims to eliminate those deadly months of lag time. Their research teams are first looking to create vaccines for the diseases most likely to cause massive outbreaks in the near future: Nipah virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Lassa fever.

Researchers say coalition members’ diverse backgrounds and expertise—from academia to business and government organizations—will be a huge asset to the project. “For too long, we have separated out the academic work from the next step of taking it into all that is actually required to make a vaccine,” Farrar told Nature.

The coalition has already secured $460 million USD in support from Norway, Germany, Japan, the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and representatives say they expect to raise the rest by the end of 2017.

[h/t Nature]

Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • H-E-B Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

97 Percent of Us Are Washing Our Hands All Wrong

Most of us know the importance of washing our hands, but we're still pretty clueless when it comes to washing them the right way. As CNN reports, we fall short of washing our hands effectively 97 percent of the time.

That number comes from a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that looked at 383 participants in a test-kitchen environment. When they were told to wash their hands, the vast majority of subjects walked away from the sink after less than 20 seconds—the minimum hand-washing time recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of them also failed to dry their hands with a clean towel.

The researchers had participants cooking and handling raw meats. Because they didn't wash their hands properly, volunteers were spreading potentially dangerous germs to spice jars 48 percent of the time, contaminating refrigerator handles 11 percent of the time, and doing the same to salads 5 percent of the time.

People who don't wash their hands the correct way risk spreading harmful microbes to everything they touch, making themselves and those they live with more susceptible to certain infections like gastrointestinal illness and respiratory infections. Luckily, the proper hand-washing protocol isn't that complicated: The biggest change most of us need to make is investing more time.

According to the CDC, you need to rub your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds to get rid of harmful bacteria. A helpful trick is to sing "Happy Birthday" twice as you wash—once you're finished, you should have passed the 20-second mark. And if your bathroom or kitchen doesn't have a clean towel to dry your hands with, let them air-dry. 

[h/t CNN]


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