May 20, 2009Rare smallpox vaccine complication prompted extraordinary measuresThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday reported a case of progressive vaccinia, a complication of smallpox vaccination that had not been confirmed in the United States since 1987. The case occurred in a 20-year-old Navy sailor who received smallpox vaccine on Jan 13 and 2 weeks later was found to have acute myelogenous leukemia M0. During workup of a chemotherapy-induced fever, his doctors noted that his vaccination site had become larger. Within 24 hours of his progressive vaccinia diagnosis the patient received vaccinia immune globulin intravenous (VIGIV). A few days later he received oral and topical treatment with the investigational antiviral drug ST-246. Despite treatment, the patient became septic and had multiorgan failure. Because of long and intensive vasopressor support, the patient had dry gangrene of his feet and required bilateral amputation. His wound began to heal after another round of VIGIV and ST-246 and treatment with another investigational antiviral drug, CMX001, a lipid conjugate of cidofovir. A total of 276 vials of VIGIV were used during his treatment, an amount previously thought adequate to treat 30 people. The CDC said the case underscores the need to recognize the condition early, especially in immunocompromised patients, to involve a multidisciplinary medical team, and to consider such events when setting drug stockpiling goals.[May 19 MMWR report]Two more Egyptian children infected with H5N1 Egypt’s health ministry today announced two more H5N1 avian influenza infections in children, Reuters reported. One of the patients is a 4-year-old boy from Dakahliya governorate in northern Egypt who is hospitalized in stable condition and is being treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu). The other patient is a 3-year-old boy from Sohag governorate in southern Egypt, according Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR) reported. He got sick on May 17, was hospitalized the next day, and is in stable condition. Both boys were said to have contact with sick poultry. If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the two infections, Egypt’s H5N1 count will rise to 74 cases, of which 26 were fatal. The death toll does not yet include a 4-year-old girl who died from an H5N1 infection on May 18.[May 20 Reuters story]Study questions inactivated flu vaccine efficacy in childrenInactivated influenza vaccine doesn’t appear to prevent flu-related hospitalizations in children, particularly those who have asthma, according to Mayo Clinic researchers who reported their findings yesterday at the American Thoracic Society’s (ATS) annual meeting in San Diego. The cohort study, designed to test the efficacy of the vaccine, included 263 children from 6 months to 18 years old who had laboratory-confirmed flu between 1996 and 2006. Children who had received the vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization compared with those who weren’t vaccinated. Even higher hospitalization rates were seen in children with asthma. Avni Joshi, MD, one of the researchers, said in an ATS press release that though the study raises questions about the vaccine’s efficacy, it does not implicate it as the cause of the higher hospitalization rate. She said more studies are needed to assess the vaccine’s immunogenicity and efficacy of different vaccines in patients who have asthma.
Aug 6, 2009British lab finds better-yielding seed strain of H1N1Britain’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) has produced a seed strain of novel H1N1 virus that grows much better than strains currently used, the Canadian Press reported yesterday. John Wood of the NIBSC said the strain grows about as well as typical seasonal flu seed strains, but the results must be confirmed by manufacturers. Vaccine makers welcomed the news. Yields from the seed strains now in use have been 50% below those with seasonal flu vaccines or worse.Argentina flu deaths double in latest countThe number of novel H1N1 flu deaths in Argentina has risen to 337, according to the health ministry’s latest report, suggesting that Argentina could soon pass United States as the country with the most fatalities, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported yesterday. The number was more than double the deaths reported in the ministry’s last report 2 weeks ago. Though Argentina has more fatalities than any South American country, officials believe novel flu cases have peaked.http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/05/argentina-swine-flu-deaths-doubleAug 5 Guardian storyIran bars pilgrims from attending the HajjTo slow the spread of the pandemic H1N1 virus, Iran’s health ministry has banned the country’s citizens from attending the annual Hajj pilgrimage in December in Saudi Arabia, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The health minister said through state media that the event draws 3 million pilgrims from all over the world, presenting a heightened risk of flu transmission. Iran has confirmed 145 cases so far, but no fatalities.http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2009/August/middleeast_August142.xml§ion=middleeast&col=Aug 6 AP storyCalifornia nurses protest inadequate safety equipmentCalifornia nurses protested outside the University of California–San Francisco (UCSF) medical center yesterday to demand better equipment to protect them against the pandemic virus, according to an Aug 4 press release from the California Nurses Association. An ABC News report yesterday showed the nurses protesting in scrubs and masks. Nurses also protested the alleged firing of a UCSF nurse for complaining about inadequate safety gear. The California Hospital Association has denied the claims.Baxter finishes first batches of cell-based pandemic H1N1 vaccineBaxter International Inc. yesterday announced completion of the first commercial batches of its cell-based pandemic H1N1 vaccine, called Celvapan A/H1N1. The company said the vaccine was developed and produced within 12 weeks of receiving the H1N1 virus strain. In making the vaccine, Baxter applied the same processes used in gaining earlier European licensure of a mock-up pandemic vaccine, officials said. Clinical trials are scheduled to start this month.http://www.baxter.com/press_room/press_releases/2009/08_05_09-A-H1N1.htmlAug 5 Baxter news releaseCDC reports low sensitivity for rapid flu testsThe CDC reported today that it assessed several rapid influenza diagnostic tests and found they had low sensitivity, ranging from 40% to 69%. Sensitivity declined substantially when the clinical samples had lower levels of virus, the agency said in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Thus a positive result can guide treatment, but a negative result does not exclude a novel H1N1 infection. The agency evaluated the tests using 65 samples known to contain novel H1N1 or seasonal viruses.http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5830a2.htmAug 7 MMWR articleLarge insurer to cover novel H1N1 vaccineWellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurance company in terms of membership, says it will cover administration of the novel H1N1 vaccine as it becomes publicly available, according to a story today from IFAwebnews. WellPoint operates as Anthem Blue Cross in Virginia and as Empire Blue Cross in New York. Members whose plans already provide coverage for vaccines will qualify for the added coverage.http://ifawebnews.com/2009/08/06/nations-largest-health-insurer-to-cover-h1n1-vaccine/Aug 6 IFAwebnews article
This year, the American Association of Hotels and Accommodations (AHLA) published the results of a comprehensive survey of accommodation, that is, detailed assessments of advances in serviceability, sustainability and technology, services available to guests, and industry trends. This research indicates the ways in which hotels thrive, host and innovate the visitor experience. This survey is conducted every two years, and this year convenience and social experiences are the leading trends affecting both hotel design and guest service improvement, demonstrating the industry’s commitment to increasing the overall visitor experience. Hospitality for millennials Using mobile services remains a priority. More and more guests are using apps to access hotel services. The use of mobile phones instead of room keys has almost doubled, and cell phone check-in remains the primary trend in more than 80 percent of accommodation facilities. Technology implementation In an effort to meet the needs of influential millennial travelers, hotels continue to innovate, focusing on togetherness and convenience. Supporting communities among travelers is becoming increasingly important and hotels are recognizing the desire to create functional common spaces. Although the sample should not be considered representative of entire industry segments, more than 10 percent of respondents reported the implementation of common spaces. Support for sustainable initiatives remains important for the accommodation industry. Since 2018, 25 percent of domestic holdings have received the so-called “Green Certificate”, the gold standard of sustainability. Bed linen and towel reuse programs are available in almost all accommodation facilities, and most hotels have implemented a water-saving program. “The hotel and accommodation industry is paving the way for innovationSaid Chip Rogers, President and CEO of AHLA. “We continue to focus on meeting the dynamic and diverse desires of consumers, and in particular on the service and experience of guests, as well as on the development and improvement of accommodation and workforce.”, He concluded. Passengers who want to eat properly are increasingly offered a vegetarian and / or healthier diet. Also, the number of hotels that offer fast, but healthy, food is on the rise. Ecology Source / photo: American Hotel and Accommodation Association; Pexels
Harmonization of European travel rules as an imperative The first report shows that quarantines, changes in border regulations, unclear reservation and cancellation policies create obstacles for respondents with short-term travel plans and highlight the need for European governments to coordinate travel rules and regulations without delay. Despite the pandemic, Europeans remain optimistic about travel The majority of respondents (54%) state that they intend to travel in the next six months, while 26% said they plan to travel by November 2020. Traveling to Europe is the best choice, with 41% planning to continue traveling in the country and 39% to other European destinations. It was pointed out that the countries affected by COVID-19 are still among the most popular destinations in Europe, and on the scale of water Spain, France and Italy. Among those who plan to continue their journey before, the most attractive types of recreational trips are sun and beach vacations (25%), followed by city vacations (19%) and nature / outdoor trips (16%). Europeans give priority to health and safety on their travels (21%), but they also take into account peace and relaxation (14%) as well as accessibility (13%). From a health point of view, 20% consider air travel to be the least safe part of the trip. For those with short-term travel plans, no factors are more important for decision-making than flexible cancellation policies (11%), social exclusion in flights and transportation (9%), and completely abolished travel restrictions (9%). This is the first study to assess the short-term travel intentions of European travelers from ten major markets to better understand and respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel to Europe. The report also provides information on people’s travel preferences, including types of destinations and experiences, vacation periods, and travel concerns in the coming months. Interestingly, the data also tells which are the five markets that will travel within 6 months first and which will not. Thus, among the greatest interest in travel is in Poland, then Italy, Spain, Germany and Austria. Travel concerns remain high as Europeans have to move with complicated restrictions and a persistent pandemic. The ETC report showed that the primary concerns for those intending to travel in the short term are quarantine measures during the trip (15%), an increasing number of COVID-19 cases (12%), the possibility of getting sick at the destination (11%) and change / unpredictable travel restrictions (10%). Travel restrictions and the growing cases of COVID-19 keep Europeans grounded Read the full report in the attachment. European travelers are eager to continue their journey, but anxiety over the growing number of coronavirus cases and severe travel restrictions may lead many to put their scheduled journeys on hold, according to a new study published by the European Travel Commission (ETC). Attachment: MONITORING SENTIMENT FOR DOMESTIC AND INTRA-EUROPEAN TRAVEL – WAVE 1 “The report makes it clear that Europeans’ appetite for travel is strong, but it is also hampered by understandable health concerns and a discouraging set of COVID-related rules and restrictions.”, Said ETC Executive Director Eduardo Santander and added: “A harmonized approach and simplification of travel rules at European level is the only solution to restore consumer confidence and launch a recovery in travel.”