May 22, 2009HHS funnels $1 billion toward vaccine for novel H1N1 fluHealth and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that she is allocating about $1 billion in existing funds toward clinical vaccine studies this summer and for commercial-scale production of both antigen (active ingredient) and adjuvant (which boosts a person’s immune response) for a novel H1N1 influenza vaccine. “The actions we are taking today will help us be prepared if a vaccine is needed,” Sebelius said in a news release.[May 22 HHS news release]Global novel flu numbers rise slightlyGlobal novel H1N1 influenza totals pushed to 11,168 cases and 86 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The Philippines reported its first case, to push the number of affected countries to 42 as the global case total grew by 134 since yesterday. The numbers include 3,892 cases with 75 deaths in Mexico, 5,764 cases and 9 deaths in the United States as of yesterday, 719 cases and 1 death in Canada, and 20 cases and 1 death in Costa Rica.[WHO update 36]US case count tops 6,500The number of confirmed and probable novel H1N1 flu cases in the United States today swelled to 6,552, up 212 cases from yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. No new deaths were reported. Also, no new states reported cases, to hold the total of affected states at 47, plus the District of Columbia.[Current CDC numbers]Cases underreported in Britain?Some influenza experts suspect that the number of novel H1N1 influenza cases may be higher than reported in Britain, the Associated Press reported today. The country is reportedly trying to contain the virus by blanketing suspect cases and their contacts with oseltamivir, which several experts, such as Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, at the University of Minnesota, said won’t work. According to the AP, Britain and Spain are also testing only those who have a travel history or are case contacts.[May 22 AP story]Mexico City downgrades alertMexico City yesterday lowered its novel flu alert, which removed restrictions on visiting public places, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported. The city’s mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, said resident no longer need to wear masks, and he noted that no new infections with the novel flu virus had been reported for a week in the city.[May 22 BBC article]Australia raises its pandemic alert levelAustralia’s health ministry today raised its pandemic alert to the “containment” phase, as the number of novel H1N1 influenza rose to 11 and the country detected its first instance of community transmission of the virus, Bloomberg News reported. Two schools closed for a week after student cases were confirmed, and health officials are testing 28 more suspected cases. The government also said it was considering ordering H1N1 vaccine from Australia-based CSL Ltd.[May 22 Bloomberg News story]
The European Central Bank’s (ECB) decision to reduce deposit rates and extend its quantitative easing programme is likely to have a limited impact on the average Dutch pension fund’s coverage ratio, consultancies have said.In the wake of the ECB’s announcement, the 30-year swap rate – Dutch schemes’ most important criterion for discounting liabilities – increased from 1.48% to approximately 1.6%.At the same time, however, equity markets fell, with the AEX and the Stoxx 50 losing 1.6% and 1.8%, respectively.Dennis van Ek, an actuary at Mercer, said: “The short-term effects on pension funds’ coverage are positive because of the rate increase, but they are negative following dropping equity markets.” He said Dutch pension funds with small interest-risk hedges and limited equity holdings could expect a modest funding improvement.Schemes with extensive interest hedges and relatively large stock portfolios, however, are likely to have the “opposite perspective”, he said.On balance, Mercer believes the rate increase’s impact on Dutch pension funds’ coverage ratios will slightly exceed that of falling equity markets.Neither did Geert-Jan Troost, an investment consultant at Towers Watson, expect Dutch schemes’ coverage ratios to be affected significantly.But Troost noted that those pension funds recently reducing their interest hedges – permitted by regulator DNB as a one-off opportunity to increase their risk profiles – were now at an advantage.Corine van Egmond, ALM consultant at Aon Hewitt, highlighted that the effect of the ECB’s measures would depend on where pension funds’ stock holdings were concentrated.“The funding of a scheme with a relatively large stake in the US will be less affected, as equity markets over there have been relatively stable,” she said.“On the other hand, the rate increase will have a negative impact on euro-denominated government bonds, which will affect the funding of schemes with an extensive fixed income portfolio.”Mercer concluded that the ECB aimed to keep interest rates low for at least the next year.“Pension funds should, therefore, not expect their funding to improve as a consequence of rising interest rates,” Van Ek said.
First Published: 1st January, 2020 19:51 IST Written By COMMENT Last Updated: 1st January, 2020 19:51 IST Redskins Hire Ron Rivera As Coach The Redskins hired Ron Rivera as their coach on Wednesday in owner Dan Snyder’s latest step to try to turn around the wayward franchise. FOLLOW US LIVE TV Associated Press Television News WATCH US LIVE SUBSCRIBE TO US The Redskins hired Ron Rivera as their coach on Wednesday in owner Dan Snyder’s latest step to try to turn around the wayward franchise.Washington announced the move two days after Snyder fired president Bruce Allen following a decade of futility. The former Carolina Panthers coach quickly emerged as the Redskins’ top candidate and inherits a team that went 3-13 this season and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015.The 57-year-old of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent is the first minority to be named full-time coach in Redskins franchise history. Rivera is the seventh coach hired by Snyder in his two decades of ownership that have included just five playoff appearances.Rivera spent the past nine seasons coaching the Panthers, taking them to the Super Bowl in 2015.“He gets the best out of players,” said Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, who played for Rivera with Carolina. “And not just players, but men. He builds men and guys — and also builds character, and sets them up not just for football, but sets (them up) in life. I think that’s the first and foremost thing you want to see in anybody, that they actually care about you instead of the game itself.”The Redskins are the first team that fired its coach this season to fill the position. Snyder zeroed in on Rivera, who flew to Washington on Monday to meet with him about the job.Rivera replaces interim coach Bill Callahan, a favorite of Allen, who was fired after going 62-97-1 during his 10 years with the organization.“After several meetings with Coach Rivera, it was clear he is the right person to bring winning football back to Washington, D.C.,” Snyder said in a statement. “He is widely respected around the league as a man of great integrity and has proven to be one of the finest coaches in the country.”Snyder and Allen fired Jay Gruden in October after a 0-5 start to his sixth season. Rivera was fired by the Panthers in December after starting 5-7.Carolina made the playoffs four times during Rivera’s tenure, including a 15-1 season in 2015.“Those Panther teams were tough and physical,” said Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the team’s longest-tenured player. “Obviously they made the Super Bowl that one year. We played against them that year and they really were a damn good team that year. He’s always had a physical, tough bunch. I know that.”Rivera previously was a defensive coordinator for the Bears and Chargers. He should boost a Redskins defense that underachieved and finished 27th out of 32 NFL teams.“Just not consistent enough is the big word of the year,” defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. “We have a young group, young defense and, I mean, (the) only place from here is up, honestly.”Rivera could bring in Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator after time together in Carolina. Wilks spent one season as Arizona’s coach and most recently was defensive coordinator in Cleveland under Freddie Kitchens, who was fired Sunday.Norman, who had his only All-Pro season under Wilks, called him “the best guy for the job.”Rivera goes from coaching Cam Newton with Carolina to younger quarterback Dwayne Haskins with Washington. Haskins, whom the Redskins selected 15th overall and goes into 2020 as the starter, met Rivera during the pre-draft process.“He’s a good dude,” Haskins said. “I heard a lot of good things about him. We’ll see what happens.”