Congress provides $99 million to aid flu vaccine production

first_imgDec 17, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Pushed by this year’s influenza vaccine crisis, Congress recently approved $99 million to improve the nation’s capacity to produce influenza vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).The funds are intended to promote the production of flu vaccine with cell-culture technology and to ensure that a supply of eggs is available year-round for conventional production of flu vaccine, said CDC spokeswoman Kathryn Harben in Atlanta. The appropriation was included in the $388 billion omnibus spending bill that was signed by President Bush Dec 8.Harben said there were no current plans to use any of the money to buy more flu vaccine for this season. The government recently announced plans to buy 1.2 million doses of a German-made vaccine to boost this year’s supply.The $99 million appropriation for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is intended to “spur development of domestic production of a licensed cell-culture flu vaccine,” Harben said. “The idea is that by expanding the number of domestic producers and the quantity produced in this country, this will reduce over the long term the risk of another unexpected vaccine shortage.”Flu vaccines traditionally have been grown in fertilized chicken eggs, a process that takes about 6 months. The idea of growing the vaccine in cells from insects, monkeys, or other animals is drawing increasing interest because it may be somewhat faster and the resulting vaccine may be slightly safer. Several companies are experimenting with the method, according to recent reports.Harben said the flu-prevention funds can also be used “to ensure a year-round supply of appropriate eggs for domestic vaccine. The idea is that if a [flu] pandemic were to begin, vaccine production could also begin at any time. Right now eggs are only produced during a certain period. This is more of a short-term effort to expand annual flu vaccine production.”Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., among others, has argued that the government should lower the financial risks for flu-vaccine manufacturers by buying doses that manufacturers can’t sell by the end of the season. Bayh cosponsored an unsuccessful bill this year that would have authorized that approach.Meg Keck, a spokeswoman for Bayh, told CIDRAP News, “CDC could use some of that funding [the $99 million] to buy vaccine at the end of the season, as Sen. Bayh has suggested.” Bayh has written to the CDC urging the agency to use some of the money that way, she added.But Harben said, “Right now there are no plans to use these funds, which are intended to be used for pandemic preparations, to purchase annual flu vaccine for this season.”She declined to predict whether any of the money could be used to buy leftover vaccine in the future. “I believe it’s something that will be looked at, but no decisions have been made at this time,” she said. She noted that the new appropriation is for fiscal year 2005, which ends Sep 30, 2005, so the money must be obligated for a specific purpose, though not actually spent, by that time.Keck said the original proposal for this year’s flu-prevention funding was $75 million, but the sum was increased at the urging of Bayh and others. In addition, she said the legislation includes authority for HHS to use the money to buy flu vaccine for the general public, which has not been true of flu-prevention appropriations in the past.last_img read more

Miami-Dade mayor to allow gyms, fitness studios to remain open

first_imgGimenez said that he came to a compromise on the matter and that people heading to the gyms will be required to wear masks the entire time they are inside the gym.Ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, short-term rentals and indoor dining rooms at restaurants will still be forced to close. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez will allow gyms to remain open in the county.The announcement comes after he initially ordered gyms to shut down.Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez to close restaurant dining rooms, fitness centers, gyms & morelast_img read more

USC Viterbi open house showcases student projects

first_imgNearly 2,200 students, teachers and parents from across 28 schools attended the USC Viterbi Robotics Open House, an annual event sponsored by the Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems. Robotics researchers from the Viterbi School of Engineering made a comprehensive exhibition of all the research activities that are in progress at Viterbi.The principle organizers of the event were Maja Mataric, vice dean of research, and Katie Mills, outreach administrator for Viterbi.The event is part of the ongoing outreach efforts of Viterbi Adopt-a-School, Adopt-a-Teacher program, which aims to motivate the next generation of engineers with the creativity and possibilities of science, technology, engineering, math and machines.“USC has a relationship with a number of schools that are part of what is called as the ‘USC Family of Schools,’” said Michelle Flowers Taylor, director of the Institute of Engineering Community and Cultural Competence. “We have this ongoing relationship with schools in the area, and we engage the students and their teachers in various on-campus activities in our schools to help really provide an exposure to the students to engineering and computer science.”Graduate and postdoctoral students talked about what robotics is and how they first became interested in engineering, in addition to showing them application specific robots that they have developed. One example is Scribbler, a bot designed and programmed by Colin Quinsey, a biomedical engineer, that autonomously finds its way through a maze drawn in black ink on paper. Quinsey, talked about assembling sensors and actuators in a sized chassis which act as the eyes, ears and limbs of the robot.“A lot of our projects are open ended,” Quinsey said. “We don’t have instruction based projects, rather this is a task that you have to do and you have to solve it in whatever manner you can”.The USC VexU Robotics team, a multidisciplinary mechatronics design team and a finalist in the 2016 Vex World Competition for the design, fabrication and programming of its custom built robots, also put up a display.Students were also shown the possibilities of controlling robots through brainwaves. Ali Marjaninejad, a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering and Chris Lynn, a postdoctoral  student in brain body dynamics, talked about their “Modellers” research which has been ongoing in collaboration with the Caltech David Andersen Lab. The research goes a long way to help patients with disabilities mimic the abilities of a normal person with mechanical prosthetic. Marjaninejad and Lynn explained how electrodes arranged on the brain surface of a subject carried signals to the robot controller which acted to the accord of the user.“I’m studying the physiology of movement and muscle control, particularly manual dexterity,” Lynn said. “We are doing this to learn not only how dexterity is possible, but also using small hand manipulation tasks in order to quantify and characterize disease states.”Zhi Su, a biomedical engineer, put up a display of robotic arm which could drive a screw into a machine.“The way my project works is actually very intuitive,” Su said. “Robots have a memory of their previous experience with one form of objects and then use the experience to do other forms of different objects.”last_img read more

Former NFL star Arian Foster dunks on Florida’s pandemic response

first_imgDeSantis has faced extreme pressure to limit movement in his state due to the pandemic, and his slow approach to the issue compared to other large states has prompted backlash .— feeno (@ArianFoster) April 1, 2020MORE: 2020 NFL Mock Draft The video Foster shared comes from the Nov. 15 meeting between Kansas and Monmouth. In the clip, Hawks player George Papas steals the ball and dunks on Kansas while trailing 110-55. He talked trash to the Jayhawks afterward, despite the lopsided score.Foster — now a musical artist under the name “Bobby Feeno” — has always been outspoken about his beliefs, dating back to when he played in the NFL. He has publicly taken up causes relating to social justice and NFL head injuries .He rushed for 6,527 yards and 54 touchdowns before retiring at the age of 30. Former Texans and Dolphins running back Arian Foster sharply criticised Florida’s pandemic response on Wednesday as the state’s COVID-19 tally continued to rise at a staggering rate.Foster used Twitter to call out Gov. Ron DeSantis for implementing a stay-at-home order after more than 6,000 people have become infected. Through a video highlight, Foster compared shutting things down now — after DeSantis refused to do so for weeks — to dunking in the final seconds of a basketball game while already down 50 points.last_img read more