Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—February 2, 2020

Stay up-to-date on the latest infectious disease news by checking out our top 5 articles of the week.

#5: FDA Approves H5N1 Influenza Vaccine

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an adjuvanted influenza A H5N1 monovalent vaccine (Audenz). The approval was granted to Seqirus.

The vaccine is approved for individuals 6 months of age or older to protect against influenza A H5N1. The vaccine is the first adjuvanted, cell-based vaccine designed to be used against H5N1 in a potential pandemic scenario.

According to a press release issued by Seqirus, pandemic influenza carries the additional risk of morbidity and mortality because of limited pre-existing immunity to the virus. The new vaccine can be stockpiled for use and is designed to be able to be rapidly deployed.

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#4: ACIP Unveils 2020 Adult Vaccine Schedule

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has released the Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule, United States 2020 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The new recommendations include changes in the administration of vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, meningococcal serogroup B, and pneumococcal disease.

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#3: Epidemiology Details of the First 425 Novel Coronavirus Patients

On January 31, 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), while noting that the risk to US residents is still low.

Before the HHS declaration, the World Health Organization announced that 2019-nCoV would be considered a public health emergency of international concern.

2019-nCoV first came to the attention of Chinese public health officials in December as “pneumonia of unknown etiology,” a surveillance category established after the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

Now, investigators have published details of the first 425 cases in The New England Journal of Medicine. The article includes epidemiologic characteristics and transmission dynamics of the initial 2019-nCoV cases, concluding that there has been human-to-human transmission among close contacts since the middle of December 2019.

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#2: US Flu Cases Increased by 4 Million Over the Last Week

New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that influenza activity in the United States has increased over the last 2 weeks.

The most recent statistics, collected through the week ending January 25, 2020, report that there have been 19 million cases of influenza during US 2019-20 flu season. This is an increase of 4 million cases since the last report.

Additionally, the CDC has recorded 180,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths from the flu thus far. Based on these figures, severity is not considered high at this point in the flu season.

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#1: Remdesivir Being Evaluated Against Novel Coronavirus

Gilead Sciences has announced collaboration with Chinese, US, and global health officials in order to investigate the safety and efficacy of its investigational antiviral compound remdesivir (GS-5734) against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Gilead is working with Chinese health authorities to establish a randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Remdesivir is a nucleotide analogue prodrug initially developed as a treatment for Ebola virus and Marburg virus infection. Although remdesivir is not a licensed or approved drug anywhere in the world at present time, the treatment has shown activity against other coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in animal models.

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