Mar 1, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Global and US health authorities have recommended two new influenza virus strains for use in the flu vaccine for the 2006-07 season.Last week the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) selected a “Wisconsin” strain of influenza A(H3N2) and a “Malaysia” strain of influenza B for next season. They will replace a “California” strain of H3N2 and a “Shanghai” strain of influenza B used in the current vaccine.The “New Caledonia” strain of influenza A(H1N1) virus used in this year’s vaccine should be used again next season as the third component of the trivalent vaccine, the ACIP said. (The strain’s full name is A/New Caledonia/20/99[H1N1].)The ACIP, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), followed recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in picking the strains. The CDC routinely follows the ACIP recommendations on flu vaccines.Each February the WHO assesses the flu virus strains in circulation before picking the strains for the next Northern Hemisphere flu season. In a Feb 14 report on its recommendation concerning the H3N2 strain to be used, the WHO said, “Many recent isolates were antigenically similar to the current reference virus, A/California/7/2004, but an increasing proportion of recent viruses was more closely related to A/Wisconsin/67/2005.”Likewise, the WHO said the majority of recent influenza B isolates were similar to the strain B/Malaysia/2506/2004, rather than to the B/Shanghai/361/2002 strain used in this year’s vaccine. The Malaysia strain is antigenically equivalent to B/Ohio/1/2005, according to the CDC.A year ago, health authorities picked only one new strain for the 2005-06 flu vaccine, keeping the other two the same. According to a recent Reuters report, a spokesman for a leading vaccine manufacturer said changing two of the strains in next season’s vaccine may make production less predictable.”It does put more uncertainty into the total number of doses you’re producing at any one time,” Albert Thomas, director of vaccine manufacturing for Sanofi Pasteur, was quoted as saying. His company has been the biggest supplier for the US market in recent years.The strains to include in each season’s vaccine must be chosen early in the year because it takes roughly 6 months to produce the vaccine. The viruses used in vaccines are grown in chicken eggs.The WHO report said global flu activity from October 2005 through January 2006 was low compared with recent years. Several countries had outbreaks of H3N2 influenza, but H1N1 and B viruses caused only scattered cases in most countries, the agency said.See also:Feb 23 CDC news release on ACIP actions, including flu vaccine recommendationhttp://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/r060223.htmWHO report on recommendation for 2006-07 vaccinehttp://www.who.int/influenza/vaccines/2007northreport.pdfFeb 17, 2005, CIDRAP News story “FDA approves adding new strain to flu vaccine”
Source: Mark PrinsWouter Koolmees, Dutch social affairs minister“If our funding doesn’t improve, we will already have to apply a discount next year,” said Peter Borgdorff, director of the healthcare scheme.“It can only be prevented if social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees decides to suspend cuts,” he added.Trade union FNV had already called on the government to delay rights discounts during the implementation of the pensions agreement between the social partners and the cabinet in June.Borgdorff said: “At the conclusion of the accord, the parties said that rights cuts would be avoided. It doesn’t improve the credibility of the pensions system, if discounts have to be applied within a year.”Rights cuts at the four largest pensions funds would affect almost eight million pension entitlements in the Netherlands. However, the current ultimate forward rate of 2.2%, against which the schemes are allowed to discount their liabilities, cushioned the drop in interest rates.Aon estimated that the falling rates had caused the valuation of liabilities to rise more than 4% on balance.It attributed the drop in rates to the escalating trade conflict between the US and China, a worsening economic outlook, and increasing uncertainty around Brexit.The consultancy also cited hints by several central banks that they were considering monetary easing. However, it noted that this had limited losses on equity markets.“If our funding doesn’t improve, we will already have to apply a discount next year.”Peter Borgdorff, director of PFZWSchemes’ so-called policy funding – their average coverage of the past 12 months – is the main criterion for rights cuts and indexation, and this is to fall further in the coming months as a result of the recent funding drop. Mercer said it expected the policy funding to drop to 104% on average at the end of this month.Although the cabinet had temporarily lowered the minimum required coverage ratio from 104.3% to 100%, it has also raised the so-called critical funding level, which is different for different schemes.Pension funds with a coverage short of this critical level must immediately cut pension rights and benefits, as they cannot make a reasonable case for recovery to the required funding of around 125% within 10 years.The cabinet is also to reduce the allowed assumptions for future returns as of 2020, which will limit pension funds’ recovery potential.ABP and PFZW under pressure, tooAlthough the most recent funding figures of the large pension funds date from the end of June, a funding drop of five percentage points since then would mean that the coverage ratios of civil service scheme ABP, healthcare pension fund PFZW, and the metal schemes PMT and PME had dropped to between 90% and 92%.Under the old rules – with a minimum required funding level of 104.3% – PMT and PME were already facing cuts next year.However, given the current situation, even the new threshold of 100% won’t be sufficient to prevent discounts, which could be as high as 8%.ABP and PFZW have a year’s respite on cuts compared with the metal schemes.However, in their new recovery plan next year, in which they must factor in the lower parameters for future returns, their funding must be above the critical level to avoid immediate cuts.The critical funding level for ABP and PFZW will be 95% and 94% as of 2020. If PFZW’s funding would stand at, for example, 91% at the end of this year, it must cut pension rights and benefits by 3% next year. More Dutch pension funds are facing cuts of pension rights and benefits following a dramatic funding drop in the first week of August.As a consequence of a combination of persistently lower interest rates and falling equity markets, their funding decreased by no less than four percentage points, according to Aon Hewitt and Mercer.Funding had already dropped at least one percentage point on average in July.The consultancies said that long-term interest rates had decreased 20 basis points on average, resulting in the 30-year swap rate – the main criterion for discounting pension funds’ liabilities in the Netherlands – falling to around 30bps as at the end of Wednesday.
June 22, 2020 AP Source: Players’ association executive board votes 33-5 to reject deal with MLB for 60-game regular season Associated Press Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNEW YORK (AP) — AP Source: Players’ association executive board votes 33-5 to reject deal with MLB for 60-game regular season.