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H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Global tally tops 50K, novel H1N1 preponderance, quarantine risk in China, young as vaccine priority, grant to develop flu drug

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first_imgJun 22, 2009Global tally of novel H1N1 cases exceeds 50,000The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) count of novel H1N1 influenza cases today reached 52,160, nearly 8,000 more than the last count on Jun 19. The WHO listed the death toll as 231, up from 180 as of 3 days ago. Five countries are new to the list today: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, and Slovenia. Media reports said that Ethiopia and Iran also have reported their first cases, all in people who were recently in the United States.[WHO update 52]Nearly all influenza A viruses in US are novel H1N1The novel H1N1 influenza virus accounted for 98% of all influenza A viruses that were subtyped in the United States in the week of Jun 6-13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Jun 19. Only 0.2% of isolates were influenza B. The CDC said overall flu activity declined but remained above normal for this time of year, with 11 states reporting widespread activity. The death of one child was linked to the novel virus.[CDC flu surveillance report]US warns travelers of risk of quarantine in ChinaThe US State Department warned on Jun 19 that travelers to China may be quarantined for 7 days if they arrive with a fever or flu-like symptoms. Chinese authorities target travelers with even slightly elevated temperatures if they come from areas with novel H1N1 cases, plus people sitting near them, the statement said. It also said the US has received reports of children being separated from parents and travelers being held in unsuitable quarantine conditions with poor drinking water and food.Flu cases shutter muscular dystrophy group’s summer campsThe Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has canceled its remaining summer camps after 11 children at camps in two states got sick with novel H1N1 infections, the group said in a Jun 19 statement. The MDA said children who attend the camps have weakened respiratory muscles, which puts them in a high-risk flu group. The CDC consulted on and agreed with the cancellation of the MDA’s remaining 47 camps, which were set to host 2,500 children.[Jun 19 MDA press release]Canada sets vaccine priority sights on younger peopleAs the Public Health Agency of Canada works on its priority list for the novel H1N1 vaccine, people aged 5 to 40 and those living in aboriginal communities may be at the top of the list, Canwest News Service (CNS) reported today. Officials said the pandemic strain, unlike seasonal flu, is striking mainly children and young adults. Though older people appear to have some immunity to the virus, immunizing their grandchildren may provide an extra measure of protection, an expert said.[Jun 22 CNS story]Company wins grant to develop RNA-based novel flu treatmentAVI Biopharma, based in Portland, Ore., announced yesterday that it has received a contract of up to $5.1 million from the US Department of Defense to develop one or more RNA-based drugs to treat novel H1N1 flu. In addition to identifying potential drug targets and lead and backup drug candidates, the contract supports the production of testing material for animal studies. The company said its RNA-based drugs use proprietary technology that targets messenger and premessenger RNA.last_img read more

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Austrian Pensionskassen association pushes for sustainable investments

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first_imgA privileged tax treatment for employee contributions has been demand of politicians for years, in order to make the pension fund instrument more attractive to savers, Michaela Plank, principal and member of the country leadership team at Mercer Austria, told IPE.“The link [of tax deductions] with sustainable investments is welcomed, especially since pension funds cannot deny the topic of sustainability in the future,” she said.A recent Fachverband survey revealed that Pensionskassen in Austria already invest €15bn sustainably, based on the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment.This represents 61.5% of Pensionskassen’s total investments volume.“The topic of sustainability has already been included by all multi-employer pension providers, at least in their strategy,” Plank said, noting that, however, the access to sustainable investments is currently not regulated, meaning that each pension fund sets its own priorities.For this reason, Plank added, it is necessary to define “uniform regulations” both at the local level and in line with the requirements of the European Union to build a foundation for domestic Pensionskassen to compete internationally. “Our request to the government would be that everyone who pays for a green supplementary pension can deduct it from tax”Andreas Zakostelsky, chair of the Fachverband der PensionskassenResponsible investments rose by 10% in 2019 to €1.7trn in Germany and in Austria, according to research by Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen (FNG), the industry association promoting sustainable investment in the DACH region.But in Austria only 17% of asset owners and fund managers surveyed said they pursue impact approaches.“We are seeing increased interest in implementing ESG policies in the investment process, but it would be preferable that all investors view ESG as the standard and focus on the topic of “transformation” and “what impact do I achieve”,” Angelika Delen, head of investment consulting at Mercer, added.Returns from capital deployed in sustainable investments can be attractive from the point of view of investors, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic pushes to rethink business models and growth.“Sustainable investment does not automatically mean higher returns, but they are, meanwhile, at least equivalent, and often more profitable in the long term, as they focus on future-oriented industries,” Zakostelsky said.Andreas Wimmer, senior group managing director at the CQ Investment Group, told IPE that asset managers at the group generally support measures to make sustainable investments available for a larger number of potential investors.The inclusion of sustainable investments within a scheme’s portfolio “should further help to establish common standards and transparency in the industry,” he continued.“In this regard, we think it would be helpful to implement the proposal [of the green supplementary pension] on a voluntary basis,” he added.Returns from sustainable investments have been competitive compared to traditional investments, he said.“We think it could be in the interest of pension funds to increase their allocation in this segment,” he concluded.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. The Fachverband der Pensionskassen, Austria’s occupational pension fund association, has floated the idea of a “green supplementary pension” to push pension funds torwards sustainable investments.“We are convinced that this measure would increase the proportion of sustainably invested capital to more than 75% by 2025,” Andreas Zakostelsky, chair of the Fachverband, told IPE.The basic idea behind the “green supplementary pension” is that pension funds create pots with tax-deductible contributions dedicated only for sustainable forms of investment.“Our request to the government would be that everyone who pays for a green supplementary pension can deduct it from tax,” Zakostelsky said.last_img read more

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