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bringing home the bacon

In January 2004, CIDRAP published an article explaining that the CDC decided to conduct research into "the worst fears" of infectious disease experts.
Jan 14, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – One of the worst fears of infectious disease experts is that the H5N1 avian influenza virus now circulating in parts of Asia will combine with a human-adapted flu virus to create a deadly new flu virus that could spread around the world.

That could happen, scientists predict, if someone who is already infected with an ordinary flu virus contracts the avian virus at the same time. The avian virus has already caused at least 48 confirmed human illness cases in Asia, of which 35 have been fatal. The virus has shown little ability to spread from person to person, but the fear is that a hybrid could combine the killing power of the avian virus with the transmissibility of human flu viruses.

Now, rather than waiting to see if nature spawns such a hybrid, US scientists are planning to try to breed one themselves—in the name of preparedness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon launch experiments designed to combine the H5N1 virus and human flu viruses and then see how the resulting hybrids affect animals. The goal is to assess the chances that such a "reassortant" virus will emerge and how dangerous it might be.

CDC officials confirmed the plans for the research as described recently in media reports, particularly in a Canadian Press (CP) story.
Everytime I read that "now rather than waiting..." sentence, it blows my mind. As I wrote back in April:
Is that a Stupid Fucking Idea, or what? Let's play with matches. Let's run with scissors. Let's pour lighter fluid on a blazing fire. Oh wait I know...let's create in a laboratory a killer mutant virus that nature would probably never generate on its own.
So here we are. They made it and then they spread it, "accidentally" of course.


I was looking around at CIDRAP the other day. They have a whole section on bioterrorism -- anthrax, plague, smallpox, tularemia, VHF (Ebola-type stuff), and botulism.

Neither anthrax nor botulism make effective bioterrorism agents. But that doesn't stop the spending or the fear mongering.

I don't know about tularemia. It may be another hyped-up threat that sucks more money into the R&D machine, but the symptoms sound vaguely familiar:

Pneumonic Tularemia

Organisms enter the lungs either through inhalation of infectious aerosols or through hematogenous spread. The infectious dose by the respiratory route is 10 to 50 organisms (see References: Franz 1997, Saslow 1961).

Once in the lungs, the organisms rapidly enter pulmonary macrophages (within minutes) and begin replicating. The explosive replicative capacity of F tularensis appears to be an important factor in virulence associated with pulmonary infection (see References: Malik 2006). An intense accumulation of inflammatory cells, particularly neutrophils and macrophages, can be seen at sites of bacterial replication. The influx of neutrophils appears to play more of a destructive than protective role in the host response.

The following features have been noted for pneumonic tularemia (see References: Lillie 1937, Stuart 1945, Syrjala 1986):

  • Ulcerative bronchitis and bronchiolitis
  • Hemorrhagic edema with a nonspecific inflammatory response consisting of lymphocytes, plasma cells, and eosinophils (early in the clinical course)
  • Discrete nodules with acute suppurative necrosis of lung parenchyma
  • Alveolar exudates involving mononuclear cells, fibrin, and red blood cells
  • Nodular, segmental, or lobar consolidation
  • Caseous or cavitary lesions (later in the clinical course)
  • Granuloma formation (late in the clinical course)
  • Pleural fibrinous, fibrinocellular, or fibrinocaseous exudation
  • Hilar lymphadenopathy

The fact is, these bioterrorist agents keep a lot of people busy. They are profitable. They are useful for manipulating people.

In October 2007, the US government awarded several contracts:

Oct 16, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The US government recently awarded contracts totaling about $34 million to two companies for development of drugs to treat pneumonic plague, tularemia, and anthrax, three of the diseases terrorists are deemed most likely to try to exploit.

Nanotherapeutics, Inc., based in Alachua, Fla., announced it had received a $20 million contract to develop NanoGENT, an inhaled form of the injectable antibiotic gentamicin, for treating pneumonic plague and tularemia.

PharmAthene, Inc., based in Annapolis, Md., announced last month that it had been awarded a contract worth up to $13.9 million for further development of a human monoclonal antibody called Valortim to be used as an anthrax antitoxin.

The contracts were awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), both part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

More spending:
December 2009

Botulinum toxin may cause a neuroparalytic illness that may result in respiratory failure and require prolonged mechanical ventilation. As medical resources needed for supportive care of botulism in a bioterrorist event may quickly overwhelm the local healthcare systems, biodefense research efforts have been directed towards the development of a vaccine to prevent botulism. While human botulism has been caused only by toxin serotypes A, B, and E (rarely serotype F), all seven known immunologically distinct toxin serotypes (A - G) may potentially cause intoxication in humans from a bioterrorist event. A pentavalent (ABCDE) botulinum toxoid (PBT) has been administered as an investigation new drug (IND) to at-risk individuals for nearly 50 years. Due to declining immunogenicity of the PBT, research efforts have been directed at development of both improved (less local reactogenicity) botulinum toxoids and recombinant vaccines as potential vaccine candidates to replace the PBT.


Janice M. Rusnak

Clinical Research Management, Special Immunizations Program, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Fort Detrick, MD

Leonard A. Smith

Division of Toxicology, USAMRIID, Fort Detrick, MD

Fear mongering: The "overwhelmed hospital" scenario has been duly noted (1) here, (2) here, and (3) here. The corporate media wants the public to worry about such things.
(1) Sun Sentinal 10/19/09: Florida health officials are drawing up guidelines that recommend barring patients with incurable cancer, end-stage multiple sclerosis and other conditions from being admitted to hospitals if the state is overwhelmed by flu cases.

(2) Washington Post 10/24/09: Instead, officials said the action provides greater flexibility for hospitals which may suddenly find themselves confronted with a surge of new patients as the virus sweeps through their communities.

(3) NYT 10/26/09: Federal officials say the possibility that America’s already crowded intensive care units would be overwhelmed in the coming weeks by flu patients is small but they remain vigilant.

In the past, people who are paid to know things have claimed not to know them. Then "terrorists" struck. From their position of faux-ignorance, the authorities then expressed "regret." They are only human, after all, and so they make mistakes. Anyway, who could have imagined blah blah blah...

But should a bioterrorism agent be dispersed, I am here to tell you, there's no way the authorities can claim ignorance. There are so many authorities in on this you can't even believe how many.

This is a list of people associated with Landes Bioscience Journals. These journals cover 30 different topics, each one with editorial boards. This list applies to the Human Vaccines journal, one of 30 journals.
Editor-in-Chief for Human Vaccines: Ronald W. Ellis
Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer
NasVax Ltd; Ness Ziona, Israel

Associate Editors:
Sujit K. Bhattacharya, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases; Kolkata, India
Sally Blower, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA; Los Angeles, California USA
Joel Bozue, United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Maryland USA
Robert S. Daum, University of Chicago; Chicago, Illinois USA
Heather Davis, Coley Pharmaceutical Group; Kanata, Ontario Canada
John Donnelly, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics; Siena, Italy
Robert Edelman, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Baltimore, Maryland USA
John Edmunds, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre; London, UK
Jean-Louis Excler, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; Trelex, Switzerland
Ian Feavers, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control; Potters Bar, UK
Ricardo Galler, Instituto de Tecnologia em Imunobiologicos, BioManguinhos; Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Nathalie Garcon, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; Rixensart, Belgium
Gregory M. Glenn, Intercell USA Inc.; Gaithersburg, Maryland USA
Michael F. Good, Queensland Institute of Medical Research; Queensland, Australia
Carlos Guzman, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research; Braunschweig, Germany
Michael G. Hanna, Jr., Intracel; Frederick, Maryland USA
Leonard C. Harrison, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research; Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Luc Hessel, Sanofi Pasteur MSD; Lyon, France
Genevieve Inchauspe, Transgene; Lyon, France
Mark Kane, Consultant
Helena Kayhty, National Public Health Institute; Helsinki, Finland
Kevin Killeen, Matrivax Corporation; Boston, Massachusetts USA
Keith P. Klugman, Emory University; Atlanta, Georgia USA
Wayne C. Koff, International AIDS Vaccine Institute; New York, New York USA
Reiner Laus, BN ImmunoTherapeutics; Mountain View, California USA
Orin S. Levine, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; Baltimore, Maryland USA
Philip O. Livington, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; New York, New York USA
Nils Lycke, Univeristy of Göteborg; Göteborg, Sweden
C. Russ Middaugh, University of Kansas; Lawrence, Kansas USA
Timothy F. Murphy, University at Buffalo, SUNY; Buffalo, New York USA
Mark J. Newman, PaxVax, Inc.; San Diego, California USA
Miguel O'Ryan, University of Chile; Santiago, Chile
Lawrence Paoletti, Harvard Medical School; Boston, Massachusetts USA
Michael Pichichero, University of Rochester Medical Center; Rochester, New York USA
Gerald B. Pier, Harvard Medical School; Boston, Massachusetts USA
Michael W. Russell, University at Buffalo, SUNY; Buffalo, New York USA
Jo Southern, Institute of Child Health; London, UK
Pramod K. Srivastava, Center for Immunotherapy, University of Connecticut; Farmington, Connecticut USA
James Tartaglia, Sanofi Pasteur; Toronto, ON, Canada
Jeffrey Ulmer, Novartis Vaccines; Cambridge, MA USA
Matthias von Herrath, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology; San Diego, California USA
Brian J. Ward, McGill University; Montreal, QC Canada
Michael Watson, Sanofi-Pasteur; Lyons, France
David B. Weiner, University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Bruce G. Weniger, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Atlanta, Georgia USA

Editorial Board:

Sudhir Agrawal, Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Cambridge, Massachusetts USA
Francis Andre, Atobis S.A.; Brussels, Belgium
Ruth Arnon, Weizmann Institute of Science; Rehovot, Israel
Stephen Black, Kaiser-Permanente; Oakland, California USA
Steven N. Chatfield, Health Protection Agency; London, UK
Robert Chen, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Atlanta, Georgia USA
Ron Dagan, Ben-Gurion University; Beer-Sheva, Israel
Angus G. Dalgleish, St. George's Hospital Medical School; London, UK
Anne De Groot, EpiVax, Inc.; Providence Rhode Island USA
R. Gordon Douglas, Consultant; Niantic, Connecticut USA
Kathryn Edwards, Vanderbilt University; Nashville, Tennessee USA
José Esparza, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Seattle, Washington USA
Ian Frazer, University of Queensland; Queensland, Australia
Lance K. Gordon, ImmunoBiologics Corp.
Jaap Goudsmit, Crucell; Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dan Granoff, Oakland Research Institute; Oakland, California USA
Brian Greenwood, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; London, UK
Marion F. Gruber, Food and Drug Administration; Rockville, Maryland USA
Ian Gust, University of Melbourne; Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Scott A. Halperin, Dalhousie University; Halifax, NS, Canada
Karl Erik Hellstrom, Harborview Medical Center; Seattle, Washington USA
David Kaslow, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania USA
Myron M. Levine, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Baltimore, Maryland USA
Alf Lindberg, Nobel Foundation; Stockholm, Sweden
Philip Minor, National Institute of Biological Standards and Control; Hertfordshire, UK
Thomas Monath, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Harvard, Maryland USA
Paul A. Offit, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Stanley A. Plotkin, Sanofi Pasteur; Doylestown, Pennsylvania USA
Regina Rabinovich, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Seattle, Washington USA
Philip K. Russell, Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute; Potomac, Maryland USA
David Salisbury, UK Department of Health; London, UK
Bing Sun, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Shanghai, China
John Treanor, University of Rochester; Rochester, New York, USA
Howard L. Weiner, Harvard Medical School; Boston, Massachusetts USA

Look at them all! Do you feel reassured knowing that all these smart people are on the human vaccine bandwagon? I see pigs at a trough but that's just me.

I will just call your attention to one name in particular, Ruth Arnon.
In 2004, BiondVax, an Israeli company, developed a "quantum leap in technology" for influenza vaccines. [link now defunct - ed.] The key players are Isaac Devash, Chairman, Ron Babecoff, Founder and CEO, and Ruth Arnon, Weizmann Institute of Science Professor.

"It's a quantum leap in technology," he told ISRAEL21c. "It's a totally different concept from other vaccinations. What generally happens today is that there are 120 monitoring stations globally that look for new strains of virus around the world. Once it shows up, they identify the surface of the virus and develop a vaccine to combat it."

"Professor Arnon said 'I don't want to play that game'. It's tedious work identifying new strains of the virus and there are always new ones coming up. She said let's look conceptually at the virus - beneath the surface - to see if there are particular elements that don't change. And then let's make a vaccine out of those parts which are universal in all viruses," explained Devash.
Well it turns out BiondVax enjoyed tremendous success. The stock price went right through the roof this year.


At the end of January, in Washington DC, many of these people will probably attend Phacilitate's 8th annual North American Vaccine Forum.
Building on the resounding success of the last 7 North American Vaccine Forums, the 2010 event will once again provide a highly valuable meeting place for senior level industry and public sector figures driving the development of novel prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.

The 3 day conference program will feature a mixture of business, regulatory and scientific topics, with speakers drawn from big pharma/biotech, the regulators and and vaccine developers themselves. Breakout sessions, workshops and panel discussions combine to make the event highly interactive.

In 2010, the Washington Vaccine Forum will once again run concurrently with Phacilitate’s annual Cell & Gene Therapy Forum. Participants will be able to select the conference agenda of greatest current value to themselves and their organization, with all networking opportunities shared between the two events. Breakfast and lunch buffets, extended refreshment breaks and evening receptions will all take place in the shared exhibition area.

"Excellent. The best"

Dr Michael Balady, Acting Deputy Director, Medical Countermeasures, Office of Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response (ASPR), US Department of Health & Human Services

A total of 500+ senior level attendees participated in 2009. For more information on how your company can raise it’s profile with both sets of attendees all under one roof and in just three days at the '10 event, please click here.

Here's the advisory board:
The Advisory Board for the Phacilitate Vaccine Forum Washington 2010 is:

Professor Myron Levine, Professor & Director, Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Dr Seth Berkley, President & CEO, IAVI
Dr Kanwarjit Singh, Senior Program Officer, Policy & Finance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr William Gruber, Vice President, Clinical Research, Wyeth Vaccines
Una S. Ryan, OBE, PhD, President & CEO, Diagnostics For All
Dr Rino Rappuoli, Global Head, Vaccines Research, Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics
Dr Allan P. Jarvis, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, sanofi pasteur
Stephen M. Sammut, Senior Fellow, Wharton Health Care Systems & Venture Partner, Burrill & Company
Dr Ronald W. Ellis, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, NasVax Ltd, Israel & Vice President, R&D, Meytav Technology Incubator, Israel
Dr Heather L. Davis, Executive Director & Ottawa Site Head, Vaccines Research, Pfizer
Dr Steve Chatfield, Director, Centre for Emergency Preparedness & Response, Health Protection Agency

"I have decided to join Phacilitate's Advisory Board in order to help foster the sharing of scientific, development and commercial information across the field of vaccines and biologics. If we are successful at accomplishing that, we can advance more products to the market in order to foster the improvement of human health. I seek to proceed advise on meeting agendas and invitees that will advance this cause."
Dr Ronald W. Ellis, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, NasVax Ltd, Israel & Vice President, R&D, Meytav Technology Incubator, Israel

"I have joined Phacilitate's Advisory Board in order to help provide a current international forum to discuss the major issues that face the development and commercialization of vaccines today and, wherever possible, to help move such discussions towards workable solutions that will benefit both current and future global immunization programs."
Dr Allan P. Jarvis, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, sanofi pasteur
This is all about networking and making money. This entire industry exists to transfer public sector money over to the private sector.


And we have our people in the public sector all too willing to help transfer your money while pretending to protect you from terrorists.

The GAO recently completed a report to congressional requesters: Homeland Defense: Planning, Resource and Training Issues Challenge DOD's Response to Domestic, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Incidents. [pdf]

Bottom line: The DOD is not ready should something happen. Whatever money has been spent, whatever planning has been done, it's not enough. Control and coordination must be tightened up between the DOD, FEMA, DHS, and local and state governments, or we could be looking at another Katrina-type response, and that would be "regrettable."
GAO is making recommendations to DOD to improve the link between DOD and other federal plans, match capabilities with requirements, increase readiness, and improve oversight of CCMRF funding and resourcing. DOD agreed or partially agreed with the recommendations and cited ongoing or planned actions to implement them. (page 2)

...DHS is leading a governmentwide effort to develop an Integrated Planning System that would link the plans of all federal agencies involved in incident response, including DOD’s; however, this effort is not yet complete. While much in the way of federal guidance has been developed, to be most effective, policy documents must be operationalized by further detailing roles and responsibilities for each entity that may be involved in responding to high-risk or catastrophic incidents. (page 19)
Pages and pages of more things the DOD needs to do in order to effectively respond to an attack. Spend more money. If something went wrong tomorrow, based on this report, one would expect communications to break down somewhere along the chain, and that would lead to unnecessary civilian casualties no doubt. But in that event this report will be very useful for covering asses, because powerful people can shake their heads regrettably and say yes, we knew there were problems and we were trying to get them corrected, but we just ran out of time. We're so sorry for your losses. Anyway who could have imagined blah blah blah....

So guess who requested this report?
The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman Chairman
The Honorable Susan M. Collins Ranking Member Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs United States Senate
The Honorable Adam Smith Chairman
The Honorable Jeff Miller Ranking Member Subcommittee on Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives
The Honorable Mac Thornberry House of Representatives
That loathesome creature.


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A. Peasant said…
wow dubs, good finds. i'm collecting things for tomorrow's news page.
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