Scientists Propose New “Vaccine Fund”

In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of leading global health experts are calling for a new, $2 billion fund, to spur the creation of vaccines for MERS, Ebola, and West Nile Virus, among others.  “Vaccine development is facing a crisis for three reasons: the complexity of the most challenging targets, which necessitates substantial investment of capital and human expertise; the diminishing numbers of vaccine manufacturers able to devote the necessary resources to research, development, and production; and the prevailing business model, which prioritizes the development of vaccines with a large market potential. We consider an international vaccine-development fund to be urgently needed to provide the resources and the momentum to carry vaccines from their conception in academic and government laboratories and small biotechnology firms to development and licensure by industry. Such a fund would enable basic scientists to move candidate vaccines from the laboratory through the so-called valley of death — the critical steps after good preclinical data have been obtained, comprising manufacture to Food and Drug Administration standards, a phase 1 clinical trial, and proof of concept in terms of protective immune responses. This support would permit efficacy assessment to begin — and thereby avert a repetition of the Ebola crisis.” (NEJM

Moscow Says Nyet to MacArthur…”The MacArthur Foundation, a U.S. non-profit organization known for awarding “genius grants” to exceptionally creative people, is closing its Moscow office after almost a quarter century after Russian lawmakers branded it a threat to the country. The Chicago-based fund said that it was forced to end its presence in Russia after the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, included it on a “patriotic stop-list” of groups recommended for designation as “undesirable” by the government. The action followed a series of laws targeting foreign-funded non-government organizations.” (Bloomberg

Quote of the day: “Regrettably, the blanket application of the Leahy Law by the United States on the grounds of unproven allegations of human rights violations levelled against our forces has denied us access to appropriate strategic weapons to prosecute the war,” said Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in response to the refusal by the U.S. to provide arms for Nigerian troops. (AFP


The African Union said Wednesday it had begun deployment of military and human rights observers to Burundi, where vote counting was underway a day after a presidential election. (AFP

South Sudanese troops committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by killing and raping civilians during an offensive in rebel-held parts of the country’s Unity State, says Human Rights Watch (AP

Results from Burundi’s presidential election will be announced Friday, with incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza expected to win a third term that his opponents allege is unconstitutional. (AP

A wave of attacks by Islamist insurgents Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and the islands of Lake Chad has forced tens of thousands across the border to Niger’s arid southeastern region of Diffa, worsening a dire humanitarian situation. (Reuters

Gambia’s leader on Wednesday marked the 21st anniversary of the military takeover that catapulted him into power by pardoning all prisoners convicted for treasonable offenses. The declaration, however, comes amid a rising climate of fear, Amnesty International said. (AP

African Union troops in Somalia have dismissed reports they killed several civilians during fighting, saying those shot were all Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab insurgents. (AFP

South Sudan’s rebels have split from a key commander, a spokesman said Wednesday, risking a worsening of a civil war marked by atrocities and failing peace efforts. (AFP

A Ugandan rebel leader accused of killing hundreds of civilians was charged in court Wednesday with crimes against humanity and mass murder, a police spokesman said. (AFP

President Barack Obama’s keenly-awaited trip to Africa this week comes as the US superpower’s military footprint on the continent is growing. (AFP

The Red Cross warned Wednesday that its emblem is being falsely used in violence-plagued parts of Cameroon and threatened legal action. (AP


A car bomb exploded in a crowded marketplace in a mainly Shiite Muslim district of the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people, police and medical sources said. (SMH

The United Nations envoy for Syria said government air strikes had caused widespread death and destruction in the city of Zabadani, the focus of an offensive by the army and its Hezbollah allies to retake the area from insurgents.  (Reutes

Spain said Wednesday that it is trying to establish what happened to three Spanish freelance journalists who went missing around the embattled northern Syrian city of Aleppo. A fourth journalist, a Japanese national, also is presumed missing in Syria. (AP

Four facts you might not know about housing demolitions by Israel (IRIN

The Washington Post has filed an urgent petition with the United Nations in the hopes that the institution will pressure Iran to release journalist Jason Rezaian, the newspaper’s top editor and lawyers told U.S. reporters on Wednesday. (AP


Air pollution levels in China’s cities improved in the first six months of this year, environmental campaign group Greenpeace said Wednesday, but remained far worse than global and domestic standards. (AFP

The Americas

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been given until the end of Wednesday to provide the Federal Audit Court with her written explanation for alleged irregularities in accounting methods her government used in 2014. (AP

…and the rest

The December climate change conference in Paris is the last chance for a meaningful agreement that would offer hope for a planet at risk due to greenhouse gases, U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said Wednesday. (AP

Ministers working towards a new U.N. deal to tackle climate change, due in December, need a negotiating text that is shorter and more manageable than the current draft, the Marshall Islands’ foreign minister said after informal talks in Paris. (TRF


Another bad election in Burundi. (UN Dispatch

Barack Obama has big plans for Nigeria and Africa–You Just Cant’ See them Yet. (QZ

Your Charity Choices are Too Touchy-Feely (Medium

Why the experts are worried about Burundi (Monkey Cage

Lionel Messi’s PR Trip to Gabon Did Not Go Well. (Deadspin

Are pharma giants living up to big promises on development? (Guardian

Aid needs ‘Fundraisers w/o Borders’ (From Poverty to Power

How much is that lady in the window? Female education and bride prices in Indonesia and Zambia (Cherokee Gothic

Another Bad Election in Burundi (UN Dispatch

A BRICS Bank to Challenge the Bretton Woods System? (IPS

Innovation in development (Devex

Women’s empowerment in Colombia (ODI

As aid gets better, it gets more boring. And that’s as it should be (Guardian

NGOs Send Letter to White House; Urge an End to the Cycle of Impunity in South Sudan (Enough Project

The Real Danger: Letter to President José Eduardo dos Santos (Maka Angola

Has Africa Benefitted From First Black Man in White House? (The Star