Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nat Geo Report: Sharks killed for swine flu vaccine

Sharks are being killed to obtain a substance called squalene for preparation of swine flu vaccine, according to a report by National Geographic.

The report said vaccines being made to protect people from swine flu are killing sharks because millions of doses of the pandemic H1N1/09 vaccine contain a substance called squalene, which is extracted from shark livers.

Olive oil, wheat germ oil and rice brain oil also contains natural squalene, but in smaller amount. This has drawn drug-makers' attention towards killing of sharks, especially the deepwater species, that contain huge amount of the substance.

According to the report, commercial fishers are being hired to obtain shark livers.

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Orlando Sentinel: Secret health talks & Bio hazards

The U.S. isn't ready to deal with a flu pandemic, and even less prepared to handle a more serious disease or biological attack.

This alarming assessment comes from former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, based on how the nation has responded to theswine flu. That response has been hampered by shortcomings in making vaccines and tracking the disease.

Mr. Graham is co-chair of a panel on terrorism that found the most likely mass attack would be biological. Given that threat, and the systemic problems exposed by the swine flu, policymakers need to get right to work on fixes. As the senator has noted, terrorists won't give us six months' warning.

Secret health talks

When he was running for president, Barack Obama vowed that his administration would put together a plan to reform health care and broadcast those negotiations on C-SPAN "so the American people can see what the choices are." That was then.

Now, the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress are hammering out a final deal on reform behind closed doors. President Obama's spokesman weakly argued that there already has been enough public exposure in the process.

The head of C-SPAN, the network that covers Congress, has called on its leaders to allow their health-care talks to be televised. Brian Lamb pointed out that the legislation in question "will affect the lives of every single American."

If Mr. Obama really is committed to transparency in government, he'll make sure Congress lets the cameras in.

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