In Georgia, Rev. Raphael Warnock is headed to a January 5, 2021, runoff with Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Sen. David Perdue is currently just over 50% in the other Senate race in that state, but with the remaining votes to be counted in that race, it’s possible that Perdue will also be headed to a runoff against Jon Ossoff. In one possible scenario, those two runoffs could end up determining control of the Senate.Democrat Cal Cunningham narrowly trails Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina, but it’s unlikely that the remaining ballots there will push him over the top.The odious Lindsey Graham and Joni Ernst will stay in the Senate. – Advertisement – Once again, the Democrats in the Senate will represent more people than the Republicans in the Senate. But once again, the Republicans are strongly favored to have control of the Senate, highlighting again how undemocratic the U.S. system is and how badly we need major reform. Sen. Susan Collins leads Sara Gideon narrowly in Maine. If Collins remains under 50% of the vote, the 4% of the vote currently going to a third-party candidate will be reallocated and could help Gideon. That’s two big ifs adding up to a very long shot, though. In Michigan, Republican challenger John James narrowly leads Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, but there’s reason to hope that the same mail ballots expected to boost Biden will also boost Peters.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
– Advertisement – Tired of poor-quality luggage? The Crash Baggage Robust durable suitcase collection is travel-friendly and long-lasting. Its aluminum frame makes it lightweight for portability while also making it less susceptible to damage. From looking at this durable suitcase, you’ll recognize its unique design and appearance. In fact, this makes it less likely to dent or break while you’re on your travels. It’ll also keep your clothes and accessories organized inside because it comes with a panel that divides it into two compartments. Therefore, you can keep your belongings organized and clean. You’ll also receive an interior bag to keep your dirty laundry separate. So, if you find yourself tired of retrieving your luggage with visible wear and tear, opt for this durable suitcase collection.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. gained ground in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia on Thursday as the slow-moving vote count in those contested battleground states moved him closer to capturing an electoral majority and defeating President Trump.As an anxious country waited to learn the winner, the two candidates emerged toward day’s end to make remarks that were dramatically different in tone and content.- Advertisement – For all of his complaints, Mr. Trump has only himself and his own party to blame for the delayed vote count in a number of states.State and local Republican officials refused to let localities tally mail-in votes before Tuesday in some states. And because of Mr. Trump’s monthslong attacks on mail ballots, more Democrats than Republicans voted in that fashion, which has allowed Mr. Biden to pick up the bulk of the votes arriving in the mail. As part of the effort to sow doubt on the state’s election, Mr. Trump’s Nevada state director sent a letter to supporters on Thursday asking them “to go on camera/on the record with the issues they faced voting this election” to “expose issues we are seeing at polling locations/clerks offices.” He urged calm and emphasized that “each ballot must be counted.”- Advertisement – In a brief appearance before reporters in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden said he remained confident that he would ultimately prevail but did not lay claim to the White House.“Democracy’s sometimes messy,” said Mr. Biden, who remained ahead in Arizona on Thursday night but lost some ground there. “It sometimes requires a little patience as well. But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that’s been the envy of the world.” Mr. Biden’s advantage in Arizona, a state The Associated Press has already called for the former vice president, narrowed as thousands of votes were tabulated. But in Georgia and Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump saw his early advantage dwindle as mail-in ballots were counted.Until Mr. Trump’s remarks on Thursday night, he had not appeared in public since he used a middle-of-the-night appearance Wednesday to insist he had already won. But he has posted angry Twitter messages, and he continued to do so Thursday.“All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud,” he said in one message, without elaborating on what precisely that would involve. “STOP THE COUNT!” he exclaimed in another tweet.Rebuking the president, Twitter labeled some of the messages “disputed” and said they “might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”In any event, stopping the count now would only ensure that Mr. Biden wins the presidency, because he is leading in Arizona and Nevada — states that together would give him 270 electoral votes.The presidential contest was not the only tight race drawing attention. A key Georgia Senate race that could decide the majority in the chamber grew even closer as Senator David Perdue, a Republican, saw his vote share slip under 50 percent in his race against Jon Ossoff, a Democrat. If neither wins a majority, the race would head to a January runoff, setting up the prospect of a hotly contested battle for two Senate seats in Georgia. A runoff is already planned in the special election for the state’s other seat. Updated Nov. 5, 2020, 11:01 p.m. ET Hours later, in a stunning appearance in the White House briefing room, Mr. Trump lied about the vote-counting underway in several states, conjuring up a conspiracy of “legal” and “illegal” ballots being tabulated and claiming without evidence that states were trying to deny him re-election.“They’re trying to steal an election, they’re trying to rig an election,” the president said from the White House briefing room. He also baselessly suggested nefarious behavior in Philadelphia and Detroit, cities that he called “two of the most corrupt political places.”Mr. Trump’s remarks, mostly read off notes, were at times more valedictory than defiant. Far from insisting that he would stay in power, he used much of his appearance to complain about pre-election polls, demonize the news media and try to put the best face on Tuesday’s results, trumpeting his party’s congressional gains. He did not take questions from reporters.- Advertisement – With the world watching to see if one of the most unusual presidencies in the country’s history was coming to an end, America’s patchwork of electoral laws created a confusing and angst-inducing day for both parties, to say nothing of millions of Americans eager for the campaign’s conclusion. For its part, publicly and privately, the Biden campaign spent much of Thursday trying to tamp down expectations about the certainty of results in individual states, even as his supporters were on edge when the margins turned out to be far closer than many had expected.In a briefing with reporters, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, acknowledged that his leads in Arizona and Nevada might tighten or otherwise fluctuate. It was a departure from her position the day earlier when she referred to a “historic victory in a place like Arizona,” though she still expressed optimism about victories in both states.“We do expect, similar to Nevada, that some of the margin will continue to close today,” she said of Arizona, a state she has focused on for months. “The story of Arizona is one where Joe Biden is going to win, but it’s going to take us time and patience as we go through the counting.”“The story of today,” she said at another point, “is going to be a very positive story for the vice president, but also one where folks are going to need to stay patient and stay calm.”Reporting was contributed by Catie Edmondson in Washington, Nick Corasaniti in Philadelphia, Richard Fausset in Atlanta, and Jennifer Medina and Simon Romero in Phoenix. He suffered two legal setbacks on Thursday when judges in Georgia and Michigan ruled against his campaign. But Mr. Trump notched a minor victory in Pennsylvania when a state appellate court acceded to its request to force Philadelphia election officials to grant its election observers better access to areas where workers are counting ballots. In his speech, Mr. Trump expressed no concern about the protracted vote count in Arizona, a state where he has been cutting into Mr. Biden’s lead as more ballots are tabulated.Republican leaders offered no immediate response to Mr. Trump’s remarks, but a small group of maverick lawmakers in the party denounced his comments, seeking to reassure voters that there was no reason to believe the integrity of the election had been undermined.Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, offered the sharpest rebuke, saying “this is getting insane” and demanding that the president stop “spreading debunked misinformation.”Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, wrote, “There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process.”Yet there were also Republican lawmakers who rushed to Mr. Trump’s defense, siding with him in falsely asserting that the vote counting was illegal and Democrats were trying to cheat. “Radical Dems tried to do away with law and order and are now trying to do away with law and order at the ballot box,” wrote Representative Roger Williams of Texas. Georgia’s Republican Party has said it plans to bring up to a dozen lawsuits in the state.In Arizona, Mr. Biden’s lead was down to about 46,000 votes, significantly less than it was on election night. There are several hundred thousand ballots left to count, with many coming from Phoenix’s Maricopa County, which was expected to release an update on Thursday evening.Adrian Fontes, the Democrat who oversees elections in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, said that officials would continue to release updates daily at 9 p.m. Eastern, including over the weekend.“We’re plugging along and making it happen,” Mr. Fontes said. The vote count in Maricopa has grown tense, however, since several armed protesters showed up at the county office Wednesday night. On Thursday afternoon, about 200 supporters of Mr. Trump also gathered in front of the headquarters of the Arizona Republican Party after a protest earlier in the day involving about 50 Trump supporters dissipated in front of City Hall in Phoenix.Some in the crowd held signs reading “Don’t Steal Elections,” “Shame on Fox News” and “Recall Fontes.” (Fox News called Arizona for Mr. Biden on Tuesday night, inflaming Trump supporters.)Mr. Biden led by just over 11,000 votes in Nevada, but local officials in Las Vegas announced Thursday that 51,000 ballots from Clark County there were being tallied and would be announced Friday. Mr. Biden was winning the county by about eight percentage points. If he wins the bulk of the new votes, it would make it almost impossible for Mr. Trump to take the state, because about 70 percent of Nevada’s voters live in Clark County. On Thursday, an array of Mr. Trump’s political surrogates fanned out to some of the contested states to rally his supporters. And the president’s lawyers filed lawsuits in several states questioning the integrity of the vote count in hopes of slowing down the process. With the counting proceeding slowly in the West, much of the focus on Thursday fell on Pennsylvania, where a victory would deliver Mr. Biden the presidency no matter the results in the other states. The top election official in the state said on Thursday evening that counties were “still counting” and did not offer any timetable for when the tally would be complete.Mr. Trump’s lead in the state, about 26,000 votes as of 10:50 p.m. Eastern, was shrinking as mail-in ballots were counted in the heavily Democratic cities and suburbs.The two parties held dueling news conferences in Philadelphia early in the day, with Mr. Trump’s supporters insisting his lead would hold statewide and the city’s Democrats, led by former Representative Robert A. Brady, unveiling an analysis of the remaining vote count that concluded Mr. Biden would win Pennsylvania convincingly.In Georgia, the counting of ballots in numerous counties continued to erode Mr. Trump’s advantage in the traditionally Republican state: By Thursday night, he was leading by about 1,800 votes out of nearly five million cast.Tens of thousands of ballots remained to be counted in the state late in the day, including many in Chatham County, a Democratic-leaning county along the Georgia coast that is home to Savannah, and many thousands more from Atlanta-area counties that also lean Democratic. – Advertisement –
“The management of Georgia elections has become an embarrassment for our state. Georgians are outraged, and rightly so,” the GOP senators said of the state’s GOP-led election in which Democratic President-elect Joe Biden appears to have flipped the state blue. The Republican secretary of state, they said, “has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down.”Oh, and by the way, Georgia GOP voters, please come on back to the polls in two months to be disenfranchised all over again.- Advertisement – In the meantime, Georgia Republicans have devolved into a civil war of finger-pointing and recriminations as they gear up to motivate their voters back to polls in a last-ditch effort to save their Senate majority. Carry on. The Georgia run-off is January 5th. Request an absentee ballot by Nov. 18. Early in-person voting starts Dec. 14. And REGISTER TO VOTE here by Dec. 7.Here’ McConnell placing self over country, as always:x Wow—the GOP unity is so palpable, it brings tears to the eyes.From the Senate floor Monday, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell also threw his weight behind Donald Trump’s delusions of fraud, saying Trump was “100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.”So just in case anyone wondered whether McConnell would be concerned enough about the implications of Trump purging his national security team to prioritize country first—forget it. As expected, the only thing McConnell cares about is the only thing McConnell has ever cared about: his own raw power, whatever the cost to the country.- Advertisement – In reality, there’s zero credible proof of any voter fraud in Georgia, but that’s apparently the Republican gambit now—they simply have to fire up Donald Trump’s base, even at the risk of depressing other Republican voters. Meanwhile, GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger met the senators’ call for his resignation with a one-finger salute. “Earlier today Senators Loeffler and Perdue called for my resignation. Let me start by saying that is not going to happen,” Secretary Raffensperger said at the outset of a lengthy statement, calling the election process a “resounding success” even though Republicans are upset by its outcome. Raffensperger called the assertion that the elections hadn’t been transparent enough “laughable,” and said the biggest problem standing in the way of administering local elections was federal law.“Now that Senators Perdue and Loeffler are concerned about elections, hopefully they can fix these federal laws,” Raffensperger said. As for the Republicans maintaining their Senate majority, he added, “I recommend that Senators Loeffler and Perdue start focusing on that.” – Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville, in Florida’s northeast corner, said the storm was expected to hit the city on Thursday, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and some flooding. He urged residents to stay out of the water, warning that the surf and rip currents could be dangerous. The city did not anticipate evacuations and planned to keep municipal offices open.“I know this has been a rough year,” Mr. Curry said at a news conference. “2020 has been something else for our country, the world and our community, and experiencing a tropical storm after the end of hurricane season just adds to it.”Azi Paybarah and Michael Levenson contributed reporting. Josh Rojas, a reporter with Spectrum Bay News 9, said one thoroughfare in St. Petersburg, Coffee Pot Boulevard, was “completely flooded.” Eta is the 28th named storm and the 12th hurricane of an unusually busy Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The storm’s formation tied a record set in 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma devastated parts of the Gulf Coast.Eta first became a tropical storm on Oct. 31, according to the hurricane center. It grew into a category 4 hurricane and thrashed Nicaragua on Nov. 4, killing at least three. By Nov. 9 the storm then traveled to South Florida where it caused intense flooding and produced more than 13 inches of rainfall.Eta has now produced nine named storm days, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. Only two Atlantic named storms forming in November in the satellite era had generated more named storm days: Epsilon in 2005 with 9.25 days and Gordon in 1994 with 9.5 days, he said. “This storm has been less predictable than most storms,” she said. “This one has changed its trajectory more than once — and it may do it again — so we want to ensure everyone is safe.” By early Thursday morning, more than 40,000 customers were without electrical power from Tampa to Gainesville, according to Duke Energy. Streets were submerged just days after Eta soaked the central part of the Florida Keys and its strongest winds battered the Upper Keys and Miami-Dade and Broward Counties over the weekend. On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida urged Florida residents to prepare for the storm and said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had granted his request for “a pre-landfall emergency declaration” to help mobilize federal aid to the affected parts of the state.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – MIAMI — Tropical Storm Eta continued to whip the Gulf Coast of Florida early Thursday morning, producing dangerous storm surge, heavy rain and gusty winds in the region and leaving tens of thousands without power.Eta was expected to make landfall on Thursday morning, its second time coming ashore in the state this week, according to an early morning advisory from the National Hurricane Center.- Advertisement – “It’s really been a crazy storm to watch,” Mr. DeSantis said.Earlier on Wednesday the storm had briefly regained hurricane strength but weakened again to a tropical storm.Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa said Wednesday that the city was expecting a tidal surge of up to four feet. She urged people to remain at home but said five shelters had been opened. She warned that “the weather can change in an instant” and asked residents to stay vigilant.- Advertisement – The center of Eta was about 80 miles north west of Tampa and had maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, the agency said. Slow weakening was expected as Eta approaches the West Coast of Florida overnight, followed by more rapid weakening after landfall. Eta, the center said, will dissipate over the western Atlantic Ocean by the weekend.
Max Verstappen fastest as heavy rain falls at Istanbul Park circuit which was described as an “ice rink”, even in the dry; Charles Leclerc second, Lewis Hamilton fails to set a time; Watch qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 12pm By Matt MorlidgeLast Updated: 14/11/20 10:05am – Advertisement – – Advertisement – – Advertisement – Carlos Sainz struggled to adjust to the wet conditions at Istanbul Park as the McLaren driver spun out at the second turn during final practice. – Advertisement – 0:33 Carlos Sainz struggled to adjust to the wet conditions at Istanbul Park as the McLaren driver spun out at the second turn during final practice. Max Verstappen set the pace in difficult wet conditions in Turkish GP final practice as heavy rainfall gave drivers even more problems on an “ice rink” of an Istanbul Park circuit that was already low on grip.The rain started on Saturday morning and got heavier through Practice Three, with Verstappen’s fastest time of a 1:48.485 coming on intermediate tyres in the Red Bull, almost a second clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.Lewis Hamilton, who completed only three laps on full wet tyres and failed to set a time, said “this is as close to driving on ice as you can get” during a session that featured spins and drifts aplenty.Water on a track which was described as “terrifying” even in dry conditions on Friday, was the last thing many drivers wanted and conditions got so bad towards the end of P3 that most decided to stay in the garage.There is, however, expected to be a break in the showers before qualifying, where an unpredictable shootout is in store.Qualifying is live on Sky Sports F1 at 12pm, with build-up at 11am.More to follow.
Sep 1, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – A 58-year-old Vietnamese has died of a probable case of avian influenza, the first such fatality in a month, news services reported today.The victim, a Hanoi resident who was not named, died Aug 24 and tested positive for an H5 virus, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report quoting Nguyen Tran Hien, director of an epidemiology institute in Hanoi.Hien said further tests are needed to ascertain if the virus was H5N1. But Peter Horby, a World Health Organization epidemiologist in Hanoi, told AFP the virus was almost certainly H5N1, because that’s the only H5 strain known to be circulating in Vietnam.If confirmed, the case will mean Asia has had 121 cases with 63 deaths since late 2003, including 96 cases with 44 deaths in Vietnam, according to CIDRAP’s unofficial count. The WHO’s current official count is 112 cases with 57 deaths.The last human death attributed to avian flu in Vietnam occurred Jul 31 in Ho Chi Minh City, according to AFP.FAO issues warningIn other developments, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned yesterday that wild waterfowl are likely to carry H5N1 avian flu to the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, and Africa. The warning followed detection of the virus in Siberian Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia in recent weeks.”Birds flying from Siberia, where the H5N1 virus has been recently detected, may carry the virus to the Caspian and Black Sea in the foreseeable future,” the FAO said. “These regions and countries in the Balkans could become a potential gateway to central Europe for the virus.””FAO is concerned that poor countries in southeast Europe, where wild birds from Asia mingle with others from northern Europe, may lack the capacity to detect and deal with outbreaks of bird flu,” said Joseph Domenech, FAO’s chief veterinary officer.Bird migration routes also cross Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, and some Mediterranean countries, where avian flu outbreaks are possible, the agency said. Also at risk are India and Bangladesh, which have large numbers of domestic ducks and lie along a major migration route.The FAO warning echoed concerns raised by researchers in two scientific journal reports early in July. Scientists who studied the outbreak of H5N1 avian flu at Qinghai Lake wildlife refuge in north-central China suggested that birds that visit the refuge could spread the virus to Europe, India, Siberia, Australia, and New Zealand. About 6,000 wild birds died of the disease at the refuge in late spring.However, European veterinary experts who met in Brussels last week saw little immediate risk that the virus would spread to Europe. They said it was not clear to what extent wild birds were responsible for the recent expansion of the virus’s range.Agency cites northwestward spreadThe FAO statement cited the Qinghai Lake outbreak and recent outbreaks in Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Tibet. Domenech said, “These new outbreaks show that the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus is spreading progressively northwestwards and is not restricted to South East Asia any more. In Russia and Kazakhstan, we believe contact between domestic poultry and wild waterfowl at lakes and wetlands is the primary source of infection in poultry.”The agency urged countries at risk to increase surveillance of poultry and wild birds and to prepare national emergency plans. It said close contact between humans, poultry, and wildlife should be reduced and closely monitored and that domestic birds should be separated from wildlife as much as possible.The statement also referred to the avian flu control strategy recently developed by the FAO and the World Organization for Animal health (OIE). So far, donors have pledged about $25 million to support the plan, which is expected to cost more than $100 million, the FAO said.Two days ago, the OIE appealed for funds to help affected countries control avian flu in poultry populations.See also:Aug 31 FAO statementhttp://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2005/107405/index.htmlJul 6, 2005, CIDRAP News story “Wild birds could spread H5N1 virus beyond Asia, reports say”
Aug 22, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – US health officials broke new ground last week by approving the use of a mixture of bacteriophages, or bacteria-killing viruses, to control the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that a mixture of six bacteriophages developed by Intralytix, Inc., Baltimore, is safe to use. The product, called LMP 102, is the first bacteriophage preparation approved for use as a food additive.The product is intended to be sprayed on RTE meats such as sliced ham and turkey. Each of the bacteriophages in it targets various L monocytogenes strains, and the use of six different phages is intended to reduce the risk that Listeria would develop resistance, according to the FDA record of its decision on the product.Phages infect only bacteria and are part of the normal microbial population of the human intestinal tract, according to the FDA. L monocytogenes can grow at refrigerator temperatures and can cause serious illness, particularly in pregnant women, newborns, and people with weak immunity.The phages in LMP 102 are grown in Listeria cultures, the FDA said. In examining the product’s safety, the agency looked at whether it contains any potentially harmful Listeria residues, particularly one called Listeriolysin O (LLO). Investigators did not detect LLO in the product, and mechanisms in the gut would be likely to inactivate any trace amount present.The report also says that some phages can serve to transfer toxin or drug-resistance genes between bacterial cells, but the phages used in LMP 102 are not that kind.The FDA document does not say exactly how effective the product is in reducing Listeria on RTE meats. But John Vazzana, president and CEO of Intralytix, said that in company tests, LMP 102 has reduced Listeria by 99% to 99.9% (2 to 3 logs) on foods with relatively high levels of contamination.”We concluded from those tests that we could basically get rid of 99% of any LM [L monocytogenes] that’s present,” Vazzana told CIDRAP News.He said Intralytix has licensed the product to a multinational company that serves the food processing industry, but declined to name it. “I would think we’re probably 6 months away from the product being used commercially,” he said.The FDA said its action signals only that the product meets the safety standards of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The product must also comply with meat and poultry inspection laws that are administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which require that food additives be “suitable” for their intended use, the agency said.Vazzana said the USDA has been “actively involved” in the FDA review of LMP 102 and that USDA approval is not in doubt. “This is not new to them; they’ve reviewed the petition, they’ve approved the product,” he said.The USDA will be developing guidelines for use of the product, “and that’s a process we’ll be going through over the next several weeks,” he added.Vazzana said the product may have to be listed on food labels, depending on what the USDA decides. He said that shouldn’t scare consumers, given that phages are “the most ubiquitious organisms on the planet today.””I think what we have to communicate to the consumer is that this is an all-natural approach” and that it will affect only Listeria, he said. “We believe this is a much better solution to a serious problem than using hordes of chemicals.”Vazzana estimated that using LMP 102 will add less than a penny a pound to the cost of RTE meat and poultry products.Food safety expert Craig Hedberg, PhD, said he agreed with the FDA that LMP 102 is likely to be safe, but he was cautious in assessing its likely contribution to controlling Listeria. Hedberg is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.”Theoretically, phages make a nice control measure, but the real-world application of these products almost always falls short of the ideal situation,” he told CIDRAP News by e-mail.”This seems to be another tool in the toolkit to control Listeria,” he added. “As such, it gives producers a greater range of options on control. The key to Listeria control is the successful integration of the various tools and careful monitoring of the systems to make sure everything is working as it should.”See also:FDA decision record on LMP 102http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/cf0559.pdf
May 28, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Scientists have found evidence that North American avian influenza viruses of the H7 subtype are becoming more like human flu viruses in their ability to attach to host cells, which suggests they may be improving their capacity to infect humans.The investigators determined that several recent North American H7 viruses have an increased ability to bind to a type of receptor molecule that is abundant on human tracheal cells and is less common in birds. Their results were published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.The finding—which comes as the deadly Eurasian H5N1 virus continues to be seen as the likeliest candidate to spark a pandemic—”underscores the necessity for continued surveillance and study of these [North American H7] viruses as they continue to resemble viruses with pandemic potential,” says the report. The study was done by scientists from the US Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University in Atlanta, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.H7 viruses have caused a number of disease outbreaks in poultry in Europe and North America in recent years, though far fewer than the widespread outbreaks caused by the H5N1 virus. H7 viruses also have occasionally infected humans, typically causing only mild conjunctivitis. But a veterinarian died of an H7N7 infection during the devastating poultry outbreaks in the Netherlands in 2003.Previous research has established that avian flu viruses prefer to link up with cell receptor molecules known as alpha 2-3 glycans, whereas human flu viruses, such as H1N1 and H3N2, prefer to attach to receptors called alpha 2-6. The terms refer to the nature of the link between sialic acid (SA), which forms the tip of the receptor molecule, and galactose, an adjoining sugar unit.Differences in receptor binding, transmissibilityIn the new study, with Jessica A. Belser of the CDC and Emory as first author, investigators examined the binding preferences of H7 viruses by exposing glycan microarrays—receptor molecules laid out in grids on glass slides—to solutions containing the viruses.In addition, they dosed ferrets with H7 viruses and tested whether they became infected and whether the infection spread to other ferrets housed with them. Ferrets are considered the best animal model for studying flu transmission, because the distribution of cell receptor types resembles that in humans.The viruses tested included two highly pathogenic H7N7 isolates from humans infected during the Dutch outbreaks of 2003, three H7N2 isolates from poultry outbreaks and a human case in the eastern United States in 2002 and 2003, and two H7N3 viruses from human conjunctivitis cases linked to a poultry outbreak in British Columbia in 2004.The scientists found that the two Dutch viruses, one of which (called NL/219) came from the fatal human case, showed the typical avian preference for alpha 2-3 glycans. In contrast, the three eastern US isolates showed significantly increased binding to alpha 2-6 receptors. One of these three, which came from a New York state man who was infected in 2003, showed both a sharply increased preference for alpha 2-6 glycans and reduced binding to alpha 2-3 receptors—a characteristic that was also observed in H1, H2, and H3 viruses when they were first introduced into humans, according to the report.The two Canadian isolates also showed an increased preference for alpha 2-6 receptors, compared with the Dutch strains, but it was less marked than that of the eastern US isolates.To study transmission, the researchers inoculated groups of three ferrets with one of six viruses and then caged them with three other ferrets to see if the viruses spread by direct contact. They found that the viruses multiplied in all of the inoculated ferrets, and some showed respiratory signs such as sneezing.However, most of the isolates did not spread efficiently to the other ferrets. The one clear exception was the New York virus, which was transmitted to all three of the previously unexposed ferrets and multiplied to high levels. None of the viruses spread via airborne droplets, as shown by the absence of infection in ferrets that were housed in cages next to the inoculated ferrets.The scientists write that the virus from the New York man showed both “the most dramatic shift in receptor specificity” and the greatest transmissibility in ferrets. However, they also note that an H7N2 chicken virus from Connecticut showed similar receptor preferences but spread by contact to only one of three ferrets.The authors say previous work shows that the preference for alpha 2-6 glycans seems to be essential for transmissibility in existing human flu viruses such as H1N1. But their results, they add, suggest that this characteristic alone is not sufficient to render avian flu viruses transmissible in ferrets, and that reduced binding to alpha 2-3 receptors may be one of the additional requirements.”These results indicate that H7 influenza viruses from the North American lineage have acquired sialic acid–binding properties that more closely resemble those of human influenza viruses and have the potential to spread to naïve animals,” the researchers conclude.A reminder of unpredictabilityInfectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, called the study scientifically “outstanding” and said it is a reminder that it’s impossible to predict which breed of flu virus will evolve into the next pandemic strain. Osterholm is director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News.”It goes to the point that we don’t know what the next pandemic strain will be,” he said. “However, we’re reminded with the very disturbing data in this paper that it very well could be an H7. The most important message we can take from this is that there will be another pandemic strain that will emerge—tomorrow, next week, next year, whenever, but it’s going to occur.”Dr. Terence Tumpey, senior author of the CDC study, said North American H7 viruses studied since about 2002 generally seem to have shown an increasing affinity for human-type receptors, according to a May 26 Canadian Press (CP) story.”These viruses are partially adapted to recognize the receptors preferred by human influenza viruses, but not completely,” he told CP. “It needs to be adapted further. But I think it shows that potentially these viruses are changing.”David A. Halvorson, DVM, a veterinarian and avian flu expert at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, called the CDC study very interesting but cautioned against concluding that North American H7 viruses in general are becoming more like human-adapted strains, since the study did not include viruses from wild birds.He noted that the three eastern US isolates studied—the New York human virus, the Connecticut chicken isolate, and one from a turkey in Virginia—all showed increased binding to alpha 2-6 glycans, compared with a 1993 H7N1 isolate from North Carolina. The two Canadian isolates showed a lesser increase in alpha 2-6 binding.”The H7 viruses associated with the live poultry markets in New York were first detected in 1994 and remained there until 2006, so when the 2002 and 2003 isolates were obtained they had been circulating in chickens (mostly) for 8 to 10 years,” Havorson said via e-mail. “If we allow (conservatively) one infection cycle per week, that would mean the viruses had been passed 52 times per year or 416 to 520 passages in chickens.”As such they do not generally represent ‘North American isolates of H7,’ which would include hundreds if not thousands of wild bird H7s perhaps more typical of the rhea [North Carolina] isolate. It would be more correct to confine the title, discussion, and conclusions to human isolates of H7 and high-chicken-passage isolates of H7. Those findings are important to our understanding of how avian influenza viruses might become infectious for humans, but the findings do not necessarily apply to North American isolates in general.”Research on H7 vaccinesIn view of the possible threat posed by H7 viruses, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is sponsoring several studies of human H7 vaccines, according to NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.A phase 1-2 clinical trial of a vaccine based on a US H7N7 virus was launched in March, Fauci told CIDRAP News today. The trial, based at Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, involves 125 volunteers who received doses ranging from 7.5 to 90 micrograms of antigen to study the vaccine’s safety and immunogenicity. The egg-based vaccine was made by Sanofi, he said.In addition, the NIAID recently conducted an intramural phase 1 clinical trial of a cold-adapted H7N3 vaccine made from the British Columbian strain, Fauci reported. He said the results show that the vaccine is safe, but the immunogenicity findings are still being analyzed.Fauci said some additional research on H7 vaccines is under way in NIAID labs in Bethesda, Md. “The bottom line is there is stuff going on,” he said.Belser JA, Blixt O, Chen L, et al. Contemporary North American influenza H7 virses possess human receptor specificity: implications virus transmissibility. Proc Nat Acad Sci 2008 May 27;105(21)7558-63 [Full text]See also: Jan 14 CIDRAP News story “Study refines view of H5N1 virus’s binding preferences”
Sep 9 CIDRAP News story “HHS funds work on new anthrax antitoxin” Sep 26, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Emergent BioSolutions announced today that it has received a $29.7 million contract from the federal government to continue work on another of its next-generation anthrax vaccine candidates. A next-generation anthrax vaccine would help the US military more easily inoculate troops. Soldiers in high-risk areas such as the Middle East typically receive six doses of BioThrax over 18 months, followed by annual boosters. The military has said a next-generation anthrax vaccine should ideally require fewer doses and have fewer side effects. Daniel J. Abdun-Nabi, Emergent’s president and chief operating officer, said in the statement that the grant is encouraged by federal support for its AV7909 anthrax vaccine candidate. “We look forward to continuing to work with the US government to advance all aspects of AV7909, as it pursues a multi-prong approach in responding to the ongoing threat of bioterrorism,” he said. On Sep 3, Emergent announced that it had won a $24.3 million federal contract for an anthrax monoclonal antibody treatment called AVP-21D9. In its statement today the company said it was also developing a polyclonal anthrax immunoglobulin candidate for intravenous treatment for patients who have anthrax infections. Emergent’s AV7909 anthrax vaccine consists of BioThrax (also known as Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed), plus an adjuvant called CPG 7909, licensed from Pfizer, Inc. A clinical trial of CPG 7909 added to BioThrax showed that anti-protective antigen (PA) titers increased sixfold and reduced the time to peak response from 6 weeks to 3 weeks compared with BioThrax alone, Emergent said in its statement. Also, the two doses of AV7909 elicited the same anti-PA antibody levels as three doses of BioThrax. See also: Sep 26 Emergent BioSolutions press release Of the 3-year contract, $24.9 million will cover the manufacturing of clinical lots, nonclinical safety and efficacy studies, and stability studies to determine if the vaccine can be stored without refrigeration, which is a key requirement for the new vaccine, Emergent said. The remaining $4.8 million would fund a phase 1 clinical trial if the company and the government exercise that option. Emergent, based in Rockville, Md., announced the contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in a press release today. The company makes BioThrax, the nation’s only licensed anthrax vaccine, and is also developing a recombinant anthrax vaccine and an anthrax monoclonal antibody to block the anthrax toxin.