CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Bruce Ivins February 28, 2000 email on multi-agent vaccine study

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 11, 2015

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7 Responses to “* Bruce Ivins February 28, 2000 email on multi-agent vaccine study”

  1. DXer said

    From Columbia Journalism Review:

    A pair of court decisions bring good news for FOIA users
    By Jonathan Peters, CJR
    September 9, 2015

    As the Freedom of Information Act approaches its 50th birthday next year, a major advocacy effort continues to push important reforms in Congress. But Capitol Hill isn’t the only place where FOIA’s future is being forged. Two federal appeals courts recently handed down opinions that clarify and affirm the rights of requestors and the responsibilities of agencies—one of them with particular importance for groups that plan to release publicly the information they gather.

    That case comes from the DC Circuit, which in late August handed down an opinion that has big implications for advocacy groups and nontraditional publishers, increasing their chances of successfully claiming FOIA fee waivers. The case arose after Cause of Action, a conservative nonprofit organization, submitted three FOIA requests to the Federal Trade Commission, which denied the nonprofit’s fee-waiver claims.

    The FOIA permits agencies to charge reasonable fees for “document search, duplication, and review, when records are requested for commercial use.” Depending on the request, these fees can be substantial. But certain types of requests and requesters are entitled to fee waivers, and two were at issue in this case.

    First, agencies must waive or reduce fees “if disclosure of the [requested] information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.”

    Second, agencies may charge only for duplication costs “when [the requested] records are not sought for commercial use and the request is made by … a representative of the news media.”

    Cause of Action claimed fee waivers under both categories, and ultimately the circuit court clarified what requesters must do to claim each one.

    To begin, the court held that when evaluating the “public understanding” element of the public-interest waiver, what matters is “whether the requester will disseminate the disclosed records to a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject.” It’s not necessary for a requester to reach a wide general audience.

    Then, the court turned to the “news media” fee waiver, trying to define who qualifies for it. The court focused on the OPEN Government Act, which amended the FOIA in 2007. It defines a “news media” representative as “any person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.”

    Significantly, the DC Circuit said that the “audience” reference “contemplates that the work is distributed to more than a single person”—but otherwise, size is irrelevant. Similarly, it’s fine for a startup organization to claim the “news media” waiver as long as it has “firm plans” to distribute the work. As the court said, “[T]here is no indication that Congress meant to make the lack of a prior publication record disqualifying.”

    The court concluded:

    The news-media provision requires a fact-based determination of whether a particular requester’s description of its past record, current operations, and future plans jointly suffice to qualify it as a representative of the news media. For a requester that serves (or plans to serve) the public through multiple outlets … those must be considered in combination. An entity with an extensive record will ordinarily qualify with only a thin recital of its plans (or perhaps none at all). Conversely, an entity with little or no historical record of distributing its work … may make up for that absence by concretely setting out its plans to do so.

    That’s very helpful language for nontraditional publishers. ***

  2. DXer said

    Probe of military labs expands to plague, encephalitis
    LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press
    Published: September 11, 2015, 12:20 am
    http://wavy.com/2015/09/11/probe-of-military-labs-expands-to-plague-encephalitis/

    In a statement Thursday, the CDC said it was investigating four Defense Department labs as a result of spot checks at two facilities. The Army said the spot checks were at Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center and U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, both in Maryland.

    “CDC has identified a number of transfers of concern involving multiple organisms,” the CDC said, adding that the investigation is trying to determine whether there are record-keeping or quality-management problems or if there were shipment violations involving the toxins.

    Comment:

    I am loathe to criticize scientific researchers. I’m lucky if I know whether I should put the cookie dough in the freezer or the refrigerator.

  3. DXer said

    The FBI has noted that this February 24, 2000 email by Ivins was contained in Notebook 3919. The FBI notes that “Ames spores were used in the study.”

    https://vault.fbi.gov/Amerithrax/Amerithrax%209%20of%2030

    • DXer said

      Here is Notebook 3919. It is titled “Anthrax Studies I”

      http://mrmc.amedd.army.mil/content/foia_reading_room/Lab%20Notebooks/19960903_LabNotebook3919(redacted).pdf

      Pages 25-31 – Experiments with (b)(6) vaccination protocol

      The schedule for the multi agent study was set forth at page 25 and extended over March 2000 through July 2000.

      Experiment 1 involved the prime boost study for Ebola and anthrax.

      Experiment 2 involved a DNA multi agent vaccine for Ebola, Marburg, anthrax and VEE.

      The challenge with Ames spores took place on Jun 28, 2000 — actual challenge dose was 9,840 Ames spores. (p. 30.)

    • DXer said

      Comparison of individual and combination DNA vaccines for B. anthracis, Ebola virus, Marburg virus and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus

      • Jenny Riemenschneidera, 1,
      • Aura Garrisona,
      • Joan Geisberta,
      • Peter Jahrlinga,
      • Michael Heveya,
      • Diane Negleya,
      • Alan Schmaljohna,
      • John Leea,
      • Mary Kate Harta,
      • Lorna Vanderzandena,
      • David Custera,
      • Mike Braya, 2,
      • Albert Ruffa, 3,
      • Bruce Ivinsb,
      • Anthony Bassettb,
      • Cynthia Rossic,
      • Connie Schmaljohna, ,

      Vaccine. 2003 Sep 8;21(25-26):4071-80.
      Comparison of individual and combination DNA vaccines for B. anthracis, Ebola virus, Marburg virus and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus.
      Riemenschneider J1, Garrison A, Geisbert J, Jahrling P, Hevey M, Negley D, Schmaljohn A, Lee J, Hart MK, Vanderzanden L, Custer D, Bray M, Ruff A, Ivins B, Bassett A, Rossi C, Schmaljohn C.
      Author information

      Abstract
      Multiagent DNA vaccines for highly pathogenic organisms offer an attractive approach for preventing naturally occurring or deliberately introduced diseases. Few animal studies have compared the feasibility of combining unrelated gene vaccines. Here, we demonstrate that DNA vaccines to four dissimilar pathogens that are known biowarfare agents, Bacillus anthracis, Ebola (EBOV), Marburg (MARV), and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), can elicit protective immunity in relevant animal models. In addition, a combination of all four vaccines is shown to be equally as effective as the individual vaccines for eliciting immune responses in a single animal species. These results demonstrate for the first time the potential of combined DNA vaccines for these agents and point to a possible method of rapid development of multiagent vaccines for disparate pathogens such as those that might be encountered in a biological attack.

      1
      Present address: FDA, CBER, Office of Blood Research and Review, 1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 400 North, HFM-c00, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.
      2
      Present address: Biodefense Clinical Research Branch, OCR/OD/NIAID/NIH, Room 5c12, 6700A Rockledge Dr., Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
      3
      Present address: Department of Natural Science, Lee University, 1120 North Ocoee Street, Cleveland, TN c7c11, USA.

    • DXer said

      Ebola sounds scary. For example, last week it was announced that monkeys held captive in an unnamed facility in the country have the Ebola Reston Virus but staff have tested negative for it.

      DOH confirms Ebola Reston Virus case in PH facility
      http://www.rappler.com/nation/104804-doh-ebola-reston-ph-facility

      This week I went to an interesting presentation on the white nose syndrome by a bat researcher. There was great care needed by the researchers because any contamination of the equipment (nets, even any mundane items such as rulers) could spread the fungus from one bat to another, one colony to another.

      White nose syndrome – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_nose_syndrome

      Wikipedia
      White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging disease in North American bats which as of 2012 was associated with at least 5.7 million bat deaths.

      • DXer said

        Update –
        Philippines suspends monkey exports after Ebola deaths,
        September 10, 2015

        http://news.yahoo.com/philippines-suspends-monkey-exports-ebola-deaths-073047357.html

        Manila (AFP) – The Philippines has suspended macaque exports after an Ebola virus strain that is non-fatal to humans struck 20 monkeys, killing 11, officials said Thursday.

        Eleven captive Philippine macaques have died after contracting the bat-borne Ebola Reston virus while nine others are under treatment, they said. …

        The 10 fatalities were traced to two other undisclosed breeding centres where another 10 tested positive for the virus, one of which died, she said.

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