In that connection, the Supreme Court held that “where the parties have a Type II preliminary agreement to negotiate in good faith, and the trial judge makes a factual finding, supported by the record, that the parties would have reached an agreement but for the defendant’s bad faith negotiations, the plaintiff is entitled to recover contract expectation damages.” Further, the court found that the factual conclusions made by the Court of Chancery support a finding that the LATS was a Type II preliminary agreement and that SIGA and Pharmathene could not, in good faith, propose terms of the definitive licensing agreement that were inconsistent with the LATS. Because this was the first time the Delaware Supreme Court addressed whether Delaware law recognizes Type II preliminary agreements or whether a plaintiff is entitled to recover expectation damages in connection with a breach of an obligation to negotiate a definitive agreement in good faith, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Chancery’s damages award for reconsideration consistent with its ruling.
The Court of Chancery has not yet ruled on whether Pharmathene is entitled to expectation damages as a result of SIGA’s breach of its obligation to negotiate in good faith. Since the case has been remanded, the Court of Chancery has permitted the parties to reopen the record to allow Pharmathene to introduce a limited amount of evidence regarding the profits SIGA has generated on ST-246 over the past seven years since the case was filed and to allow SIGA to respond to such evidence. Delaware courts calculate expectation damages based on the reasonable expectations of the non-breaching party at the time of the breach. The court, therefore, has expressed doubt about whether such new evidence will ultimately be relevant to its decision on the damage award.
Read it again five times.
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Sentiment: Strong Buy
ASPR awarded contracts to five U.S. companies that will make up the network’s clinical studies. Wednesday's contracts are with EMMES Corporation of Rockville, Md.; PPD Development LLC of Wilmington, N.C.; Technical Resources International Inc. of Bethesda, Md.; Clinical Research Management Inc. of Hinckley, Ohio; and Rho Federal Systems Division Inc., of Chapel Hill, N.C.
Each contract includes a minimum guarantee of $400,000 over the initial two years for access to the clinical research organization’s services. Each contract can be extended for up to a total of five years and a maximum of a $100 million. Clinical studies will be performed through the network based on proposals provided by the network members in response to specific BARDA requests.
The new clinical studies network expands the core service assistance programs through BARDA to aid medical countermeasure development. In addition to the clinical studies network, BARDA oversees a nonclinical development network, Centers of Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADMs), and a fill finish manufacturing network.
The nonclinical development network supports preclinical testing of medical countermeasures while the CIADMs provide an array of manufacturing services and influenza vaccine surge manufacturing capacity. The fill finish manufacturing network covers the final steps in the vaccine manufacturing process and supplements the filling capacity of current influenza vaccine manufacturers.
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 3:09pm
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established a network of five clinical research organizations that will design and conduct clinical studies needed to develop medical countermeasures– drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tests that help protect health against bioterrorism, pandemic influenza, and other public health emergencies.
The new clinical studies network will provide a full range of services required to plan, perform, monitor, and interpret clinical studies. The services include performing clinical studies that are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the approval of a product for human use, comparing the properties of multiple products, or evaluating the potency of products stored in U.S. government stockpiles.
If needed, the network will also be able to supplement National Institute of Health capabilities by conducting clinical studies during public health emergencies such as a pandemic. This capability will enhance the nation’s science preparedness by ensuring that clinical studies that address critical research questions for emergency response and recovery can be performed in a timely manner.
“Recent disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the 2009-H1N1 pandemic, underscored the importance of developing a capability to perform rigorous scientific studies in real time, potentially to shape the response to an unfolding crisis and to support recovery,” explained Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). BARDA is part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and will manage the clinical studies network.
In an emergency, the BARDA clinical studies network may use local institutional review boards or the national Public Health Emergency Research Review Board, a central institutional review board administered by the National Institutes of Health to review multi-site research studies on health problems arising in the context of a public health emergency. Both types of boards assure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of people participating as subjects in the research.
The clinical studies network will support BARDA-funded medical countermeasure developers and conduct clinical studies on behalf of BARDA. The activities of BARDA’s clinical studies network will be coordinated with those of HHS interagency and industry partners, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Sentiment: Strong Buy
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D. Limitations on Recovery of Expectation Damages
3. New-business Rule
Courts are not very receptive to claims for lost profits made by new businesses that have no prior history of profitability, but a court will consider such claims in light of the plaintiffs experience in the industry and the diligence of his efforts in running the business.
The Supreme Court's decision states that PharmAthene may only obtain damages for its lost expectancy if it can prove them 'with reasonable certainty.' We intend to establish to the Chancery Court, consistent with that Court's earlier conclusions, that PharmAthene's evidence of expectancy damages is speculative and too uncertain, contingent, and conjectural to permit an award."
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A teenage girl in the Netherlands is a living example of what can happen when humans and Mother Nature collide.
The 17-year-old rescued a kitten from drowning and fell ill shortly thereafter, according to an article published in BMJ Case Reports.
After interacting with the cat, she quickly developed a fever and a large, black open wound on her wrist with painful red bumps all the way up her arm.
The case stumped doctors, who originally prescribed her antibiotics with no success.
Eventually, though, a virologist was able to diagnosed her with cowpox — a rare, viral skin disease that can circulate among animal populations in seasonal cycles, sometimes infecting humans. This diagnosis came two weeks after her initial sickness.
A week later, the necrotic ulcer on her wrist was gone, leaving just a scar. The kitten, however, died the day after its attempted rescue.
Cowpox virus infections in humans are uncommon and are mainly seen in Europe, researchers wrote in the journal article. Typically, infected cats, cows or small rodents pass the virus on to humans through a scratch. In this case, though, the teen accidentally cut her wrist a few hours before picking up the kitten, which is when her medical team believes the transmission occurred.
In the 18th century, this unsightly infection played a major role in the invention of the first-ever vaccine, against the devastating virus that causes smallpox.
“At the end of the 18th century, Edward Jenner, an English physician, observed that milkmaids who had contact with the cattle-carrying cowpox virus rarely contracted smallpox — they seemed protected. Based on this observation, Jenner used the cowpox virus to produce the first smallpox vaccine, in 1796.”
Long and Strong
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Several scientists have expressed fears that defrosting dead bodies in Siberia could restart a cycle of infection should a live person come in contact with contaminated remains. According to reports, scientists have raised this concern for years, but the recent discovery of a 30,000-year-old virus in Siberian permafrost has prompted the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) to warn of the possibility of a smallpox epidemic.
In another report, BBC questioned the idea of a frozen human corpse which had smallpox spreading the virus into the environment. Scientists fear that if such an idea was possible, it could be the beginning of a global pandemic.
Other researchers speculated that the diseases could be in a state of suspended animation just waiting for their host body to be thawed by global warming.
In 2002, author Richard Stone wrote about a place near the Kolyma River in north eastern Siberia. It was there that authorities had gathered a group of people to investigate the corpses buried in the 18th century. The bodies had smallpox scars and officials expressed concern that floods could release the smallpox virus.
Mr Stone wrote that researchers had peeled away a few layers of deerskin clothing from a mummified child to revealed "blackened skin pocked with blemishes" caused by smallpox. As researchers sliced open the corpse's leg, "liquid oozes from the spongy flesh."
The research team had disinfected the opened burial site to prevent anyone who had accidentally come in contact with the virus to carry it out.
Smallpox wreaked havoc to the Arctic population and other regions. Scientists said the virus could have survived in the ice-cold region because of the freezing temperatures. Other experts believe that frozen bodies can be a "fertile ground" for the virus to thrive.
In a 20th century alone, 300 million had died from smallpox. The disease cannot be cured but a vaccine can be given to prevent the onslaught of infection for infection up to f
At least 14 US laboratory workers contracted vaccinia or cowpox virus infections from on-the-job exposures in the past decade, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official reported at a federal advisory committee meeting yesterday.
Speaking to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Brett Petersen, MD, said 26 lab-worker exposures to orthopoxviruses have been reported to the CDC since 2004, and 14 (54%) of those resulted in infections. Four of the workers had to be hospitalized, he said.
Twelve (86%) of the 14 infections involved vacinnia virus and 2 (14%) involved cowpox virus, said Petersen, who is a medical officer in the CDC's Poxvirus and Rabies Branch.
In 4 of the 14 cases (29%), he added, "It was found that the strain . . . was other than the one the researcher thought they were working with," which demonstrates the uncertainty of the risks. He also noted that 18 of the 26 exposures involved recombinant viruses.
The information represents only the cases that were reported to the CDC or in the literature and therefore probably does not cover all those that have occurred, Petersen told CIDRAP News today.
Vaccinia virus, the active ingredient in smallpox vaccine, is used in laboratory research for such purposes as expressing genes from other organisms, Petersen noted at the meeting.
Because of the risk of infection for lab workers, the ACIP in 2001 recommended smallpox (vaccinia) vaccination for lab workers who handle cultures or animals contaminated with vaccinia virus that is not highly attenuated, Petersen explained.
He reported that 7 of the 26 reported exposures involved workers who had been vaccinated in accordance with ACIP recommendations, and only 1 of those 7 became infected.
ACIP member Lee Harrison, MD, who chairs the ACIP's smallpox vaccine work group, said the smallpox vaccine protects against all orthopoxviruses, including vaccinia. He said the work group was set up last year to review the requirements for working with orthopoxviruses.
Harrison, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, said the review is deemed necessary because the ACIP has not updated its recommendations since 2003. In 2007, the smallpox vaccine ACAM2000 was licensed, and it has since replaced the Dryvax vaccine in the US national stockpile.
Petersen said the CDC is comparing data on ACAM2000 and Dryvax to assess whether ACAM2000 should be routinely recommended for persons at risk for orthopoxvirus infections. He said the smallpox vaccine work group hopes to present updated recommendations at a future ACIP meeting.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
AFP cites France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) saying in a press statement.
“[The resurrected virus discovery] has important implications for public-health risks in connection with exploiting mineral or energy resources in Arctic Circle regions that are becoming more and more accessible through global warming.
“The revival of viruses that are considered to have been eradicated, such as the smallpox virus, whose replication process is similar to that of Pithovirus, is no longer limited to science fiction.
“The risk that this scenario could happen in real life has to be viewed realistically.”
Yong reports that Drs. Claverie and Abergel are also concerned that rising global temperatures, along with mining and drilling operations in the Arctic, could thaw out and release many more ancient viruses that are still infectious and that could conceivably pose a threat to human health.
Metro News’s Mark Malloy cites Dr. Abergel saying the team are taking precautions to stop other viruses being released, noting “We are addressing this issue by sequencing the DNA that is present in those layers. This would be the best way to work out what is dangerous in there.”
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Dr. Claverie’s main research interest is the evolutionary origin and the biology of the paradoxical giant DNA viruses such as Mimivirus and the biodiversity of the marine microbial world (protists, bacteria and viruses). His laboratory’s approaches include structural, molecular, and cellular biology, high throughput genome and transcriptome sequencing, large-scale comparative genomics, and the development of relevant bioinformatic methods for sequence analysis and datamining. He also has a strong interest in the application of high throughput new generation sequencing genomic approaches in the biomedical and biotechnological fields. He is the co-author of more than 160 scientific publications in international journals and of the best-seller books “Bioinformatics for Dummies” and Bioinformatics For Dummies, 2nd Edition.
“The discovery of Pandoraviruses is an indication that our knowledge of Earth’s microbial biodiversity is still incomplete.” Dr. Claverie, told Inside Science News Service’s Ker last year. “Huge discoveries remain to be made at the most fundamental level that may change our present conception about the origin of life and its evolution.”
Discovered in the late 19th century, viruses have long been considered inert microbes, hardly qualified as living organisms and little more than a protein package of genetic material with no metabolic capabilities and incapable of replicating on their own, obliging them to parasitically invade and occupy cells and coax their host to replicate them, because they can’t make their own proteins. However, about a decade ago, discovery in an amoeba of a virus that rivals the size of a small bacterium prompted a rethinking of how viruses originated and what they could do. University of Mediterranée microbiologist Dr. Didier Raoult, Dr. Claverie, and colleagues sequenced the genome of mimivirus, for “microbe mimicking virus,” with 1.18 million bases contained more than 900 putative genes, some closely resembling genes in non-A class of their own. “These viruses have more than 2,000 new genes coding for proteins and enzymes that do unknown things, and participate in unknown metabolic pathways,” Dr. Abergel told ISNS’s Ker. “Elucidating their biochemical and regulatory functions might be of a tremendous interest for biotech and biomedical applications.”
On her CNRS Web page, Dr. Abergel notes that the researchers are now interested in genes conserved in large DNA viruses, and that analyzing them is a great opportunity to discover new “entry” points (molecular switches) in the control of cell death (apoptosis), cell division (DNA replication), or bacterial infection (phagocytosis, cell trafficking). This in turn might lead to innovative therapeutic approaches.
In his Science News report, Ed Yong cites Curtis Suttle, a virologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, observing that: “Once again, this group has opened our eyes to the enormous diversity that exists in giant viruses.” Yong notes that two years ago, Drs. Claverie and Abergel’s team learned that scientists in Russia had resurrected an ancient plant from fruits buried in 30,000-year-old Siberian permafrost . “If it was possible to revive a plant, I wondered if it was possible to revive a virus,” comments Dr. Claverie. Using permafrost samples provided by the Russian team, the French scientists fished for giant viruses by using amoebae — the typical targets of these pathogens — as bait. The amoebae started dying, and the team found giant-virus particles inside them.
Back to the chilling part, Yong’s report notes that while giant viruses almost always target amoebae, Christelle Desnues, a virologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Marseilles, last year discovered signs that another giant virus, Marseillevirus, had infected an 11-month-old boy who had been hospitalized with inflamed lymph nodes. Dr. Desnues’s team discovered traces of Marseillevirus DNA in the boy’s blood, and the virus itself in the a node. “It is clear that giant viruses cannot be seen as stand-alone freaks of nature,” she is quoted observing. “They constitute an integral part of the virosphere with implications in diversity, evolution and even human health.”
There’s a science story making the rounds this week that could easily pass as a plot for a low-budget science-fiction flick. A team of French scientists have awakened a giant virus that was encapsulated for 30,000 years in 100 feet (30 metres) of permafrost ice taken from coastal tundra in Chukotka, East Siberia. The most chilling (no pun intended) B-movieish aspect of this is that the huge (in this context meaning large enough to be seen under a microscope) ancient microbe is still infectious. Its host targets, fortunately, are amoebae, but other such reawakened viruses may not be as discriminating.
There is concern in the scientific community that resurrection of this long-dormant virus raises apprehension that other unknown pathogens entombed in frozen soil may be unleashed by climate change could pose potential risks for human health.
The discovery is described in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) entitled “Thirty-thousand-year-old distant relative of giant icosahedral DNA viruses with a pandoravirus morphology” (10.1073/pnas.1320670111), which notes that this pandoravirus-like particle may correspond to an unexplored diversity of unconventional DNA virus families, and that “The revival of such an ancestral amoeba-infecting virus used as a safe indicator of the possible presence of pathogenic DNA viruses, suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health.”
British science writer Ed Yong, who authored a report on the discovery in Nature News this week, notes in his National Geographic Society “Not Exactly Rocket Science” blog that researching the story got him into a mini-debate about the magnitude of health risk such resurrected viruses may represent.
In his Nature News report (Nature dpi:10.1038/nature.2014.14801), Yong notes that the newly thawed virus is the biggest one ever found, being at 1.5 micrometres long, comparable in size to a small bacterium. The discovery was made by a team led by evolutionary biologists Jean-Michel Claverie a Professor of Medical Genomics and Bioinformatics at the University of Mediterranée School of Medicine, Director of the Mediterranean Institute of Microbiology, and head of the Structural and Genomic Information Laboratory, a CNRS unit (UPR2589) in Marseille, and his wife Dr. Chantal Abergel of the French national research agency Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) at Aix-Marseille University
AFP reports that the research team thawed the virus and watched it replicate in a culture in a petri dish, where it infected an amoeba (a simple single-celled organism). The team named the huge virus Pithovirus sibericum, inspired by the Greek word ‘pithos’ for the large container used by the ancient Greeks to store wine and food. P. sibericum has 500 genes, compared with the influenza virus that has only eight.
Drs. Claverie and Abergel have been in the hunt for what they and their colleagues call “pandoraviruses” because of their amphora shape and the surprises their discovery may portend — referencing the mythical Greek Pandora who opened a box and released evil into the world. Pandoraviruses are a genus of very large viruses, with genomes much larger than those of any other known type of virus, whose size approaches (and with this latest discovery surpasses) 1 micron in a blob-like shape resembling some types of bacteria.
Another paper published in the journal Science last summer (Science 19 July 2013: Vol. 341 no. 6143 pp. 281-286 DOI: 10.1126/science.1239181) entitled “Pandoraviruses: Amoeba Viruses with Genomes Up to 2.5 Mb Reaching That of Parasitic Eukaryotes.” notes that:
“Ten years ago, the discovery of Mimivirus, a virus infecting Acanthamoeba, initiated a reappraisal of the upper limits of the viral world, both in terms of particle size ( 0.7 micrometers) and genome complexity ( 1000 genes), dimensions typical of parasitic bacteria. The diversity of these giant viruses (the Megaviridae) was assessed by sampling a variety of aquatic environments and their associated sediments worldwide. We report the isolation of two giant viruses, one off the coast of central Chile, the other from a freshwater pond near Melbourne (Australia), without morphological or genomic resemblance to any previously defined virus families. Their micrometer-sized ovoid particles contain DNA genomes of at least 2.5 and 1.9 megabases, respectively. These viruses are the first members of the proposed “Pandoravirus” genus, a term reflecting their lack of similarity with previously described microorganisms and the surprises expected from their future study.”
Sentiment: Strong Buy
It is unlikely that 100 percent of Syria’s chemical arsenal will be removed from the country and destroyed, and the fate of the remaining chemical weapons cache will be hard to track. The complexity of the Syrian situation presents unique challenges for this ambitious program. In addition, other regional examples make the prospect of chemical disarmament in Syria unpromising.
It is instructive that Libya, which voluntarily embarked on a chemical disarmament process in 2004, has yet to complete that process.
In real terms, then, the best that Western powers can hope for is the elimination of a considerable part of Syria’s actual chemical weapons arsenal. But, as outlined above, the possible disposition of the remaining weapons is a cause for deep concern.
Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham, a microbiologist and senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is recognized as a top Israeli expert on chemical and biological warfare in the Middle East. He is a former senior intelligence analyst in the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
There is a legitimate concern that the declaration was crafted for Western ears, to convince the international community that Syria possessed amounts of chemical weapons stockpiles that would roughly match Western estimates, when in reality it possesses far more. The Syrian army also has a history of smuggling and hiding chemical stockpiles in remote, unfamiliar areas of the country.
There is also reason to believe the military would resume weapons smuggling, let alone if presented with the opportunity. Alternatively, the weapons could be transferred in secret from Syria to Iran, Russia, or Hezbollah. This last scenario is particularly relevant considering that parts of the arsenal are likely to bear damning indications of Iranian and Russian involvement.
This means the apparent export of chemical weapons from Syria might actually play no more than a partial role in the ultimate removal of banned arms from the country. There is a real danger that parts of these stockpiles could be seized by al-Qaeda or other terror groups currently operating in Syria. However, it should also be noted that Syria may decide that its national interest lies in preventing the transfer of chemical weapons across its western border to Hezbollah. Israel could consider such a transfer as a casus belli, which could lead to a large-scale confrontation.
Practically speaking, the international community must not only ensure that Syria’s “official” 1,300 tons of chemical agents are destroyed, but also that no additional, undeclared stockpiles remain in Syria. This includes a variety of incapacitating chemical warfare agents that the Assad regime could innocently describe as “riot control agents.” Further complicating matters, the regime possesses several delivery systems that can be used for employing unitary chemical weapons, binary chemical weapons, and conventional payloads.
Lastly, it is significant that the discussion of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal does not include, by definition, the country’s biological weapons complex. Syria is not a state party to the Biological Weapons Convention, and has no international commitments in that regard. Syria has been developing biological weapons since the 1980s; these elements include certain bacterial pathogens and toxins – and perhaps the smallpox virus – that have reached the level of deployable biological warfare agents.
The Syrians have probably removed all components of their biological weapons program from facilities that contained both chemical and biological components and are under the international inspection regime. But there are three separate facilities dedicated to the development, production, and storage of biological weapons: adjacent to the port city of Latakia, in Cerin, and within the framework of the military compounds affiliated with the General Establishment for Blood and Medical Industries (also known as DIMAS), which is directly supervised by the Syrian Ministry of Defense. These biological weapons depots must be dealt with.
Vis-à-vis the international community, Assad’s commitment to eliminate his chemical weapons arsenal bolsters his position considerably, as he is the only person capable of carrying out the destruction orders. Thus, apart from rebel groups inside Syria fighting to unseat the current leadership, virtually no one in the international community will try to remove Assad from power.
Yet, it also means that prolonging the elimination process could preserve Assad’s position at the top of the Syrian hierarchy. This is likely an incentive for Assad to drag out the process, and buys him time to salvage some of the arsenal, either inside Syria or by smuggling the weapons to Iran, Russia, or Hizballah. In any event, the process of destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal will undoubtedly be protracted and unreliable.
It is obvious that curtailing Syria’s strategic capacity to employ weapons of mass destruction is essential to the international community, and it is evident that the chaotic situation in Syria renders the process prone to interference. This will continue to be true regardless of any level of cooperation between international inspectors and the Assad regime. The international community must ask what portion of Syria’s huge chemical weapons cache Assad intends to retain and hide even after international inspectors “complete” the process, and where he is likely to hide them.
There are three potential answers to this question, depending on the political outcome of the current fighting. Assad could continue to rule Syria, become the leader of only the Alawite sect, or be deposed altogether. Each of these possibilities is likely to affect Assad’s intentions as to the pace, mode, and extent of the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
The results of these scenarios do not depend on Assad alone. Iran and Russia are close allies, and both enjoy a large degree of political influence in Syria. For Iran, this is ostensibly due to Tehran’s support for Syria’s chemical weapons program since the early 2000s. It is therefore significant that Iran would likely prefer to preserve considerable portions of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and transfer them to Iran or Hizballah rather than see them destroyed.
Eliminating Syria’s declared chemical arsenal – 1,300 tons of weapons and precursor chemicals – is but one problem to overcome. It is equally important to ensure that the declared amount represents the real quantity of chemical weapons in Syria.
Op-Ed: What Will Happen to Syria's Chemical Weapons?
Published: Friday, March 07, 2014 3:43 PM
Efforts to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons capability are months behind schedule because Assad is playing games with international inspectors. It is also unclear what Syria's capability is.
Lt.Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham
Dr. Shoham is a microbiologist, recognized as a top expert on biological and chemical warfare in the MIddle East. He is a former senior intelligence analyst in the Israel Defense Forces and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
► More from this writer
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international body overseeing efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, announced on
February 10 that a third batch of banned materials had been shipped out of Syria, destined for destruction abroad. The material was transferred to a Norwegian cargo vessel and accompanied by a multi-nation naval escort. Reportedly, the three shipments represent just 11 percent of the country’s declared chemical arsenal.
Iran would likely prefer to preserve considerable portions of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and transfer them to Iran or Hezbollah rather than see them destroyed.
Despite the transfer, Syria has demonstrated deep ambivalence, if not subterfuge, regarding its commitment to comply with UN and OPCW demands to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal and infrastructure. According to the UN-OPCW timetable, the removal of chemical weapons from Syria is now running approximately two months behind schedule. Damascus did request a reformulated timetable on February 21 to complete the export, but it is apparent that the June 30 deadline will not be met.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has argued that his forces cannot safely move the toxic chemical compounds in the midst of Syria’s three-year-old civil war. At first glance, the claim appears to make sense, but in reality is little more than an excuse for Syria to continue to drag its feet. The technical and practical arrangements have been put into place to remove chemical weapons from Syria, including chemical warfare agents, binary-patterned materials, and precursor chemicals intended for further production of chemical weapons.
Assad has also been accused of stockpiling advanced weaponry – including chemical and biological arms – in the heartland of his Alawite sect’s region. He apparently believes these weapons could be useful in ensuring his and his sect’s political, and perhaps physical, survival in the event that Syria eventually breaks up.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Farchana — Cases of smallpox are increasing in the Farchana refugee camp in eastern Chad. The camp is short of medicines. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Abu Bakar Ahmed Abdallah, the deputy head of the Farchana camp, reported that the first cases of smallpox appeared two weeks ago.
He said that he appealed to the refugees not to rely on traditional medicines for the treatment of the disease, but go to a hospital instead. "However, the hospital lacks various kinds of medicines. Those in charge of treatment usually ask the patients to buy them from the pharmacy. The problem is that the refugees cannot afford to buy medicines from the market."
The deputy camp head called on the organisations working in the field of health care to accelerate the provision of medicines.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
The Preparedness Summit, a four-day national conference in the field of public health preparedness, is scheduled to take place on April 1-4 in Atlanta.
The summit is the first and longest running national conference on public health preparedness. Since the summit began in 2006, the National Association of County and City Health Officials convened multiple partners to participate in the conference. The partners for 2014 include the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security.
The 2014 Preparedness Summit is expected to attract close to 1,800 attendees, including individuals working for volunteer organizations, healthcare coalitions, emergency management and all levels of government.
Topics scheduled for the summit include the Strategic National Stockpile inventory, reducing public health risk during disasters, strengthening smallpox preparedness, preparing the nation’s healthcare system for catastrophic disaster, public-private partnership in emergency preparedness planning, anthrax preparedness and protection, the role of local health departments after a radiological event, the BioWatch program, rebuilding a community after disaster and the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013.
Last year’s conference brought 1,741 attendees to Atlanta from almost every state and several territories and countries. More than 90 percent of the attendees expressed a high degree of satisfaction with last year’s event.
Long and Strong
Sentiment: Strong Buy