WHO: initial analysis of Pakistani H5N1 suggests no dangerous mutations

first_imgJan 3, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – An official from the World Health Organization (WHO) today shared results of initial genetic sequencing tests on H5N1 avian influenza samples from a man who died of the disease in Pakistan that suggest the strain doesn’t have the capacity for widespread transmission.John Rainford, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, told CIDRAP News that the genetic sequencing involved two clinical samples from a 25-year-old man from the Peshawar area who was recently announced as the first confirmed human H5N1 case-patient and fatality in Pakistan.The man was part of a family cluster of suspected H5N1 cases which sparked global concern that the virus had mutated into a form that could enable widespread human-to-human transmission. However, the WHO said in a previous statement that while the Pakistani cases suggest a rare instance of human-to-human transmission, the virus did not spread beyond the family.Rainford said preliminary sequencing of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes from the specimens was performed at the WHO collaborating center in London. Tests completed so far show the hemagglutinin amino acid sequence is identical to some of the recent clade 2.2 viruses that have been isolated from chickens in other outbreaks in the region, he said.WHO virologists say the findings, along with recent field investigations, suggest that the H5N1 viruses in Pakistan have not gained the capacity for widespread human-to-human transmission, reported Rainford.In addition, neither analysis by WHO collaborating scientists of the neuraminidase gene nor partial sequencing of the M2 gene shows mutations that are known to be associated with antiviral resistance, Rainford said. “This indicates oseltamivir and amantadine should be inhibitory for the virus,” he added.Rainford said full genome sequencing is in progress.The WHO praises Pakistan’s timely investigation and management of suspected H5N1 cases, Rainford said. “[This] has provided reassurance about the lack of community H5N1 transmission, an effort that deserves appreciation and support.”In other avian flu developments, the WHO yesterday confirmed two fatal H5N1 cases in women from Egypt whose deaths were recently reported in the media. One was a 25-year-old from Dakahlyah governorate who got sick Dec 26, was hospitalized the next day, and died Dec 30. The other was a 36-year-old from Menofia governorate who became ill Dec 26, was hospitalized Dec 29, and died 2 days later.The two women are listed as Egypt’s 42nd and 43rd avian flu case-patients, and their deaths are recorded as the country’s 17th and 18th fatalities from the disease.The WHO reported that investigators have found no epidemiologic link between the 36-year-old and another woman from Menofia governorate whose H5N1 illness was recently confirmed by the WHO. That 22-year-old woman was previously reported to be recovering in intensive care.Also, the WHO today confirmed the death of a 50-year-old Egyptian woman who was previously confirmed as the country’s 40th H5N1 case-patient on Dec 28. The woman, from Domiatt governorate, was hospitalized Dec 24 and died Dec 31. She is listed as Egypt’s 19th avian flu death.In its announcements about the women, the WHO said all three had contact with sick or dead poultry before they became ill.Elsewhere, a veterinary official in Vietnam told Tuoi Tre newspaper that the country’s most recent H5N1 patient, a 4-year-old boy from Son La province who died of the disease on Dec 16, may have contracted the virus from a wild bird, according to a Bloomberg News report today.That report says the official, Van Dang Ky, speaking at a national conference on bird flu control in Hanoi yesterday, noted that the boy’s family had brought home some wild birds from a hunting trip and also that samples from poultry in the area where the boy lived tested negative for the H5N1 virus.See also:Dec 27 CIDRAP News story “WHO confirms H5N1 case in Pakistan cluster”last_img read more

Brazil virus death toll surpasses 80,000

first_imgBrazil’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 80,000 Monday, according to health ministry figures, as the country hit second-hardest in the world continued struggling to control the pandemic.The figure, second only to the death toll in the United States, quadrupled in two months. Brazil passed the mark of 20,000 COVID-19 deaths on May 21.Recently, the Latin American country of 212 million people has regularly registered more than 1,000 new deaths a day — though the figure for Monday was lower, at 632, bringing its overall death toll to 80,120. Topics : The country has confirmed 2.1 million total infections.Experts say under-testing means the real numbers are probably much higher.President Jair Bolsonaro, who is infected himself, faces criticism for downplaying the virus and urging state governors to reopen their economies despite health officials’ recommendations.The far-right leader is currently in quarantine, along with several infected members of his cabinet. But he previously defied state authorities’ stay-at-home measures, whose economic impact he argues could be more damaging than the virus itself.center_img Bolsonaro, who famously compared the virus to a “little flu,” regularly hit the streets with no face mask until he got infected, shaking hands and taking pictures with supporters at rallies.Like US President Donald Trump, whom he admires, Bolsonaro, 65, touts the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as promising treatments, and is taking the latter himself, despite a lack of evidence of their effectiveness against COVID-19.The World Health Organization said Friday the outbreak in Brazil appears to have finally reached a plateau.There is “an opportunity here now for Brazil… to suppress the transmission of the virus,” said WHO health emergencies chief Michael Ryan, urging the country to “take control.”But though the level of daily deaths and infections has stabilized, it remains high.On average, Brazil has registered more than 1,040 new deaths and 33,000 new infections a day over the past week.”The WHO talks about a plateau… but the problem is, the level remains very high, and it looks set to stay that way for quite some time,” said Mauro Sanchez, an epidemiologist at the University of Brasilia.Gaining control “will depend on what we do in terms of public policy, and on whether people follow it,” he told AFP.Only the United States has more infections and deaths than Brazil in the pandemic, with 3.8 million and 140,811, respectively.last_img read more

Indonesia’s forex reserves hit record high in August

first_img“The forex reserves level will remain adequate, supported by stability and a positive outlook for the economy, in line with various policy responses to push for economic recovery.”The government faces a daunting task as it looks to raise Rp 900.4 trillion from the issuance of sovereign debt papers in the July-December period to cover for its budget deficit of 6.34 percent of gross domestic product as tax collection and proceeds from nontax income fell amid slowing economic activity due to the coronavirus pandemic.It previously planned to raise $5.5 billion in loans from multilateral organizations.The government has collected Rp 601.9 trillion in tax income as of July, down 14.7 percent year-on-year (yoy) and around 50 percent from this year’s target. Meanwhile, nontax income from oil and gas amounted to Rp 44 trillion as of July, down 34.8 percent yoy. Indonesia’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves soared to a record high in August mainly due to the government’s foreign borrowing, proceeds from oil and gas, as well as tax collection, Bank Indonesia has announced.The nation’s forex reserves rose by US$1.9 billion to $137 billion, surpassing the previous record of $135.1 billion a month earlier. The latest reserves position would allow for the payment of foreign debt and nine months of imports.“Bank Indonesia views the forex reserves level as adequate to support external stability and maintain macroeconomic and financial system stability,” the central bank said in a statement. “Although the downside risks for Indonesia’s economy from the COVID-19 pandemic has declined, the risks still remain and that places some uncertainty on the domestic financial market,” said Bank Mandiri economist Andry Asmoro.The delays in foreign direct investment during the pandemic, which could trigger capital and financial outflow, would put pressure on forex reserves and the rupiah exchange rate, he added.The rupiah appreciated 0.14 percent to 14,730 per US dollar as of 12:30 p.m. Jakarta time after suffering heavy losses last week amid concerns over Bank Indonesia’s independence following a new legislative proposal to revise central bank regulation.Andry expects the rupiah exchange rate to be at around Rp 14,296 per US dollar at the end of 2020, adding that the country’s current account deficit (CAD) would narrow to 1.49 percent of GDP.“Imports are decelerating faster than exports due to postponement in production and investment activities amid the pandemic,” he said, adding that the CAD would shrink as a result and therefore support the country’s balance of payments.Topics :last_img read more

NASCAR results at Bristol: Kyle Busch beats brother in Food City 500

first_imgIt was a battle of the brothers in the final laps of the Food City 500. Kyle and Kurt Busch moved into first and second place, respectively, after choosing to stay out on the track as other drivers took two to four tires behind them. Kyle Busch had to come back from a wreck in the opening laps. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with his car and sent him spinning, which drew one of 11 caution flags on the day.Just as the green flies, the yellow is out! @KyleBusch and @StenhouseJr involved in the accident. pic.twitter.com/WRiSLvCWlL— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 7, 2019However, the younger Busch brother quickly moved back into the top 10 before eventually taking the lead for the last of 21 lead changes. He leads all active drivers with eight wins at Bristol Motor Speedway.The two have won the last four races at Bristol, but this is just the second time in their storied careers they have finished in first and second place. “That one was tough,” Kurt Busch said. “I really wanted to beat him. I was going to wreck him. I was wanting to stay close enough so that when we took the white (flag) I was going to just drive straight into three and four. I mean he’s already won. I figured he could give a little love to his brother.“I wanted that one bad. I feel like him right now. I’m all mad because I didn’t win.” Fox NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip to retire, network confirms The two elected to skip the pit on the final caution and were at the front of the pack for the final 14 of 500 laps. But it was Kyle Busch who would remain in control and eventually take the checkered flag. He has now won on every NASCAR weekend he has run this season.”We’re crazy. We just do what we need to do to try and win,” Kyle Busch said after the race. Related Newscenter_img It was Kurt Busch’s best finish of the year.Brad Keselowski was in contention for the win the entire race and held the lead before heading to the final pit stop. But, he was assessed a penalty on the final restart and ended up finishing in 18th.NASCAR results at Bristol Motor Speedway1. Kyle Busch2. Kurt Busch 3. Joey Logano4. Ryan Blaney5. Denny Hamlin6. Paul Menard7. Clint Bowyer8. Daniel Suarez9. Ryan Newman  10. Jimmie Johnson11. Chase Elliott12. Matt DiBenedetto13. Kevin Harvick 14. Austin Dillon  15. Ty Dillon16. William Byron  17. Martin Truex Jr.18. Brad Keselowski19. Kyle Larson20. Darrell Wallace Jr. 21. David Ragan22. Chris Buescher 23. Alex Bowman 24. Erik Jones25. Ryan Preece  26. Landon Cassill 27. Matt Tifft28. Michael McDowell  29. Ross Chastain 30. Daniel Hemric31. Bayley Currey32. Quin Houff 33. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 34. Corey Lajoie 35. Timmy Hill36. Gray Gaulding 37. Aric Almirola NASCAR warns drivers of penalties for skipping media, being ‘verbally aggressive’ with reporterslast_img read more