Trending News Today: Coalition Targets Emerging Infectious Diseases

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The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched to protect the world from future epidemics by creating new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, according to The Washington Post. The group was created to address the lack of preparedness for the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 individuals, and cost a minimum of $2.2 billion in economic losses in the 3 countries hit hardest. Initial investment for the initiative came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Britain’s Wellcome Trust, and the governments of Japan, Norway, and Germany, totaling nearly $500 million, the Post reported. The United States is currently not providing funding for CEPI, but is offering subject expertise. According to the Post, global health experts have welcomed the initiative, saying it would complement efforts by the World Health Organization and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Drug resistance to tuberculosis treatment is not a result of ineffective treatment, despite prior assumptions, reported The Wall Street Journal. Findings from a new study suggest that most individuals who are infected with drug-resistant tuberculosis contract the disease from an already sick patient who transmits the deadly bacteria through airborne transmission. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tuberculosis can occur through bacteria transmitted by coughing or other forms of airborne transmission, as opposed to the result of poor drug treatment. The authors suggest that efforts should not only focus on correct antibiotic treatment, but also airborne transmission prevention, the Journal reported.

Seven US Senators are demanding more sufficient information from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regarding the opioid epidemic campaign. According to The Washington Post, the DEA allegedly failed to answer questions about enforcement actions against pharmaceutical companies accused of violating laws created to prevent painkillers from reaching the black market. Questions were first sent to the DEA in October after a report by the Post found the agency had slowed its enforcement efforts, despite the growing opioid epidemic. The senators sought to determine whether civil filings had fallen and, if so, why, according to the Post. Furthermore, they asked whether the Department of Justice played a role in policy changes affecting the DEA’s enforcement efforts. “Since we wrote to you, the [CDC] has released new data showing that the US opioid epidemic is growing and that prescription and illicit opioids remain a driving force,” the senators wrote, as reported by the Post. “Especially in light of this new data, Congress and the American people deserve an explanation of how the DEA is enforcing laws that could help address this public crisis.”