“Obviously, I’ve a little three year old boy at home and my dear wife could do with seeing me probably a bit more often as well.” The Toomevara man recently committed to a Sports Performance course at the University of Limerick. He told Tipp FM Sport that when you invest time and money into something you need to give that 100% commitment. He said: “Anyone that knows the inter-county scene well, the time, the planning and the preparation that’s required for preparing and coaching a team at this level is huge and it’s really not far off a full-time position at this stage.
It has been nearly four days now since international media outlets announced that at least two Ebola trial vaccines were expected to arrive in the country on Friday, January 23. It seems no one higher up in government or those managing the nation’s Ebola crisis knows anything about the ChAd-3 and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) vaccines, whether they have been shipped to, or are now in Liberia, by GlaxoSmithKline, a British national pharmaceutical, biologics vaccines and consumer healthcare company.The company said the trial drugs have already been “shipped” to Liberia. It developed the vaccines in collaboration with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).The NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine is based on a type of chimpanzee cold virus, called chimp adenovirus type 3 (ChAd-3). The manufacturers said the adenovirus is used as a carrier, or vector, to deliver segments of genetic material derived from two Ebola virus species: Zaire Ebola and Sudan Ebola. Hence, this vaccine is referred to as a bivalent vaccine. “The Zaire species of the virus is responsible for the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.”“The vaccine candidate delivers one part of Ebola’s genetic material to human cells, but the adenovirus vector does not replicate. Rather, the Ebola gene that it carries allows the cells of the vaccine recipient to express a single Ebola protein, and that protein prompts an immune response in the individual.It is important to know that the Ebola genetic material contained in the investigational vaccine cannot cause a vaccinated individual to become infected with Ebola.”The Daily Observer contacted several highly placed officials over the weekend and Sunday, who confirmed that they have heard about the vaccines but could not say whether they were now on the ground in Liberia or otherwise. Most promised to get back sometime this Monday afternoon with answers after finding out the status of the vaccines.One eminent Liberian, who asked not to be named, described the “I don’t know” attitude of these officials, who should know everything about the running of the state especially the vaccines that have been widely publicized, as “lackadaisical.” This person added: “These are the kind of people we have running the state of affairs and playing with the lives of ordinary Liberians.” However, Mr. David Sumo, Managing Director, Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), confirmed that he had received an application from the United States Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), asking his entity to grant approval for the trial of both vaccines to be carried out in Liberia.Mr. Sumo’s LMHRA is tasked with the statutory mandate of ensuring that every medical supply that comes to the country is safe, effective and of good quality before it reaches the Liberian public. It is also tasked with protecting Liberians from the harmful effects of substandard and counterfeit medicines and health products.“We are aware because the sponsors [NIH] did apply in accordance with our guidelines,” Mr. Sumo told our Health Correspondent Saturday.He said two separate ethical committees — one at his entity and another at the Ministry of Health — have been meeting separately, looking into documents sent in by the sponsors.“For us, we are going to respond officially to them by Monday (today) latest. From our side, there are still some outstanding issues that we have noticed with their document which need to be addressed,” he stated. He, however, clarified that some of the issues won’t stand in the way of the trial process.Mr. Sumo disclosed that this is going to be the “phase 2 trial” of the vaccines, which, according to him, have already undergone phase 1 trial in a few countries, including Mali, USA and Switzerland.“With the information obtained from the first trial, we can now go into the phase 2 trial if our outstanding issues are resolved.”He stated that at least 600 participants, who are going to be mostly health workers, have been earmarked for phase 2. The third phase, will target at least 9,000 persons at an unknown date.“All the participants are going to agree voluntarily to undergo the trial. They will be told all the side effects and that the drugs are trial. They would have to agree and sign before being allowed to undergo the trial,” he emphasized.Mr. Sumo, however, clarified that every participant will be followed and monitored for at least a year in order to make sure that they remain healthy and don’t develop any sickness as a result of the trial.He stated that the vaccines will be administered to healthy Liberians, who will be thoroughly screened.He told our health correspondent that once participants come out of the trial well, it means that they have now been vaccinated against the Ebola virus disease and can’t contract the deadly virus even if they came in contact with an infected person or object.He disclosed that the vaccines will be stored below minus 30 degrees Celsius at the US Embassy. This is probably because there is no public facility equipped with such a cooling system.A US Embassy official, who asked anonymity, didn’t confirm or deny this report, but said, “As far as we have been told, the vaccines have not yet landed in Liberia.”GlaxoSmithKline, Vaccine ManufacturersAuthorities of GlaxoSmithKline have stressed that the vaccine is still in development and the World Health Organization (WHO), and other regulators, would have to be satisfied the vaccine is both safe and effective before any mass immunization campaigns could be considered.According to the BBC, field trials of other promising vaccines – for example one involving the company Merck – are planned in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the months to come.These three countries are the hardest hit nations.However, experts say with the number of Ebola cases falling opportunities to test vaccines and drugs could be limited.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
In Tuesday’s local elections, Anchorage voters gave a boost to the liberal-leaning camp on the city’s Assembly. But they also voted down a controversial change to the municipality’s tax-cap formula, and did not pass a major capital bond for dozens of public schools.Download AudioA John Weddleton supporter holding a sign shortly before the candidate was pronounced the winner in the South Anchorage race. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)At the end of the night, as staff clear tables and TV crews pack away their gear, South Anchorage Assembly candidate John Weddleton and his supporters are running through the math on whether or not he’s won. But with just two small precincts left to be counted, Weddleton’s victory appears extremely likely.“I am excited because I have been frustrated that people who come from a community council background, learn how the city works, get involved with the city really deeply, aren’t winning seats on the Assembly,” he said.Wheddleton says the race became extremely partisan, and in spite of his focus on policy details he came to viewed as the liberal candidate.Eric Croft making his victory lap at Election Central. (Hughes/KSKA)“I don’t identify as a liberal, I like my government simple: small is better, local’s better,” he said.Whether they identify with it or not, liberal-leaning candidates in four of the five Assembly races beat conservative rivals.In West Anchorage, former legislator and school board member Eric Croft was elected. Incumbent Dick Traini held onto his Midtown seat. And in East Anchorage, Forrest Dunbar, the former Democratic challenger to Representative Don Young’s House seat, won by a wide margin.“I’ll go where I’m needed,” Dunbar said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. Obviously the budget and public safety are the two priorities, that’s what our campaign goals were.”Forrest Dunbar supports march in Election Central as the candidate declares victory. (Hughes/KSKA)In the Chugiak-Eagle River race, incumbent and former mayoral candidate Amy Demboski held a sizable lead over challenger Nicholas Begich III.School board incumbent Bettye Davis held on to her seat. But in the second race for school board seat B, the divide between Kay Ellen Schuster and Starr Marsett is too close to call just yet. That race will be decided as the last ballots are tallied in the days ahead.Turnout in the municipality was low, just 21 percent. For many who did cast ballots, the most controversial issues weren’t the candidates, but the propositions over charter amendments and bonds.Ned Harshberger voted with his young daughter at the Alaska Zoo, which hosts a polling site in South Anchorage.“I mean, I hate raisin’ my property taxes, but school bonds, and just seeing schools out there, they’re always hurting, so I did vote yes,” he said.That puts Harshberger in the minority.To the surprise of many, the $49 million school bond looks like it will not pass, failing to garner a majority of votes.In a statement, Anchorage School District Superintendent Ed Graff says he believes “the results show a mix of community support as well as concern and uncertainty regarding the state’s fiscal climate.”The ‘no’ vote on the school bond is one of two budget kinks the Assembly and Administration will have to iron out in the weeks ahead.Proposition 8 received the 60 percent of votes necessary for amending the municipal charter, fixing a firmer interpretation of the formula for calculating the city’s tax-cap.Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says the passage of five other bonds related to roads, parks, and public safety demonstrates the voters’ faith in Anchorage’s economic prospects. But the Prop 8 vote means the Administration will have to adjust its budget.“We’ll figure something out,” he said. “We always have. We’ll find a way forward.”The proposal to put a 5 percent tax on retail sales of cannabis products passed with 79 percent support. The city expects revenues from that tax to cover local administrative costs once the new industry opens for business.21 percent of Anchorage voters went to the polls for Tuesday’s elections, which decided the fate of five Assembly races, two School Board seats, and nine bond proposals. With more than 98% of the precincts reporting, here are the unofficial results as of Tuesday night.As of Wednesday, the Municipal Clerk’s Office says they’re still calculating more than five thousand absentee ballots.Returns from those ballots have the potential to change the results in multiple races, including School Board Seat B and the question of whether Girdwood property owners will pick up the cost for police protection when the State Troopers leave the area this summer.The Clerk’s Office expects to have a better count of the outstanding balance by Thursday. Results won’t be official until they’re certified on April 19.CandidatesAssembly District 2- Seat A – Chugiak/Eagle River Incumbent and formal mayoral candidate Amy Demboski beat political newcomer Nicholas Begich with 58 percent of the vote.Assembly District 3 – Seat D – West Anchorage Eric Croft won the four-way race for the seat being vacated by Ernie Hall, who decided not to run for re-election. Croft took 46 percent of the vote. His conservative opponent Adam Trombley had 34 percent. Ira Perman had 15. Former mayoral candidate Dustin Darden had 5 percent. Croft served both in the state legislature and on the Anchorage School Board.Assembly District 4 – Seat F – Midtown Anchorage Incumbent Dick Traini beat challenger Ron Alleva by a sizable margin. Traini has served on the Assembly for 17 years, and been chair for 12 of them.Assembly District 5 – Seat H – East Anchorage Forrest Dunbar beat Terre Gales 61 to 39 percent. Dunbar first entered the political scene in his failed run against Rep. Don Young in 2014. The seat is currently held by Paul Honeman, who decided not to run for re-election.“I’ll go where I’m needed,” Dunbar said when asked if there were committees or issues he was particularly eager to take up.“There’s a lot of work to be done. Obviously the budget and public safety are the two priorities, that’s what our campaign goals were.”Assembly District 6 – Seat J – South Anchorage John Weddleton squeaked out a last minute win in the closest of the Assembly races. He had 43 percent to Treg Taylor’s 41 percent. Mark Schimscheimer had 15 percent. Weddleton owns Bosco’s Comics in Spenard, and has served on the city’s planning and zoning commission in the past.“I am excited because I have been frustrated that people who come from a community council background, learn how the city works, get involved with the city really deeply, aren’t winning seats on the Assembly,” Weddleton said as final results trickled in at Election Central in the Dena’ina Center.School Board – Seat A Incumbent and former state senator Bettye Davis beat challenger Brent Hughes by more than 13 percent.School Board – Seat B As the night ended Kay Schuster, a special education teacher, had a 379 vote lead over realtor Starr Marsett. The race is too close to call. Former teacher David Nees lags behind with less than 30 points. The seat was vacated by Eric Croft.Ballot PropositionsProp 1 – Anchorage School District Capital Improvements The $49.2 million bond has failed by 2 points. The money was aimed at capital improvements for dozens of schools across the municipality, including new roofs, security camera upgrades, and replacing 27 school buses.In an emailed statement, Superintendent Ed Graff said, “We know our community supports public education. I believe the results show a mix of community support as well as concern and uncertainty regarding the state’s fiscal climate.”Prop 2 – Marijuana Sales Tax The measure to tax marijuana sales at 5 percent passed by a wide margin — 79 to 21 percent.Prop 3 – Area Safety Capital Improvements This $3 million bond is for things like upgrading the 911 system. It passed 59 to 41.Prop 4 – Parks & Recreations Capital Improvements – The $3.3 million bond to upgrade city parks and trails, including Campbell Creek Trail, passed by more than 6 points.Prop 5 – ARDSA Storm and Drainage Voters passed this $36.6 million bond which improves roads and drainages through out the city and revamps Spenard Road.Prop 6 – Fire Protection This $1 million bond blazed through with 61 percent of the vote. It’s mostly going toward buying a new fire engine.Prop 7 – Police Facilities The police department will get $3.8 million for facility improvements thanks to a vote of 53 percent in favor.Prop 8 – Tax Increase Limit This political proposition received the 60 percent it needed to pass. It reverts the tax cap formula back to a previous version.Prop 9 – Girdwood Police Protection The initiative provides police protection for the community at the expense of property owners in the Girdwood Valley Service Area. At 11 p.m. Tuesday, it’s too close to call. There are only four more ‘No’ votes.Girdwood property owners would pay 1.18 mils additional to the current Muni mil rate to pay for community law enforcement, if the measure should gain voter approval. The additional cost to the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 would be $118 a year in the Girdwood Valley Service Area.The police protection starts on July 1 of this year, if the ballot initiative passes. The means of providing protection is up to the Girdwood Board of Supervisors.