MON AM News: FluGen begins flu vaccine study; Talking Trade with Drew Slocum, executive for Bank of America

— A Madison-based company called FluGen has begun a new study of its flu vaccine in older adults. 

FluGen aims to improve on currently available flu vaccine options, which have “shown only modest efficacy” in most flu seasons, the company said in a release. 

A CDC report from earlier this year found this season’s flu vaccine was only about 16 percent effective. In a separate report, the federal agency said flu vaccination typically reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 and 60 percent, “during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched” to those used in making vaccines. 

Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of virology at UW-Madison and FluGen co-founder, says this study is the first of its kind to combine nasal vaccine delivery with intramuscular shots to explore the potential for improving vaccine efficacy. 

“We have seen numerous approaches to solving the challenge of influenza vaccine efficacy over the past decade, but despite these efforts, none have achieved the efficacy needed to improve health outcomes,” he said in a release from the company. 

The study involves healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 85, as this age range is highly vulnerable to flu-related mortality, the release shows. The company aims to enroll 300 subjects across four cohorts. 

Paul Radspinner, company president and CEO, points to a “demonstrated unmet medical need” to better protect older adults from the flu. 

He says this research effort “may not only help potentially improve outcomes associated with flu, but may also yield important insights to guide further research into combination vaccine approaches for other viruses,” including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. 

See more details here: 

— In the latest episode of “Talking Trade,” Bank of America executive Drew Slocum discusses how his team helps companies navigate the intricacies of international trade. 

“The last 18 months, what we’ve seen companies work through has been unique, different and challenges that most of our companies have never faced all at one time,” said Slocum, the company’s senior vice president and marketing manager. 

The show touches on rising inflation and interest rates as well as supply chain and labor issues, along with how financial institutions and their corporate clients are grappling with these trends. 

“We’ve seen borrowing ramp up quite a bit really across the board, as companies are faced with higher costs, but also as they think about trying to get ahead of inventory issues,” he said. “More advanced purchasing on inventory … trying to make sure they have the components on hand so they can meet the demand that they’re seeing.” 

Watch the latest episode here: 

— Members of the state’s medical community say the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade could disrupt the relationship between patients and care providers. 

“Today’s decision raises concerns that could result in significant interference with the physician-patient relationship — the sanctity of which is the bedrock of our healthcare system,” Wisconsin Medical Society President Dr. Wendy Molaska said Friday in a statement. 

Stephanie Findley, who operates the Findley Medical Clinic in Milwaukee, said she’s been hearing from patients who are “devastated” over the court’s decision. The clinic provides primary care and urgent care services, with a focus on uninsured and underinsured patients. 

“This is just a very personal decision between a woman and her doctor, and I feel like the Supreme Court just snatched it right out from under them,” she said. 

Molaska added: “Defaulting to a law first created in 1849 is not the best path forward.” 

Dem AG Josh Kaul has said he won’t devote any Department of Justice resources enforcing the law, which criminalizes most abortions as a Class H felony. That 173-year-old law now takes effect in Wisconsin since protections in Roe v Wade were overturned, most legal experts say. Experts add it is likely to be challenged in court. 

According to a report from the Legislative Reference Bureau, the original ban applied to abortions after the time the fetus could be felt moving in the womb, but an 1858 change effectively banned abortion at any stage of gestation. Wisconsin’s abortion ban includes an exception to protect the life of the mother, but no exceptions for rape or incest. 

Molaska says confusion is “inevitable” over how the law will be applied, calling for “proactive legislative action.” The organization supports legislation that would “acknowledge the right of a physician to perform” and advise on abortion procedures, or refuse to do so as well, she said. 

“The health and safety of our patients is our top priority,” she said. “Wisconsin law should reflect that priority and ensure physicians can have full and frank discussions with patients about their health care without fear of imprisonment.”

The Wisconsin Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes the state’s 1849 law banning most abortions was passed 14 years before the Emancipation Proclamation, and 71 years before women gained the right to vote.

“We will continue to advocate at every possible level and by all available avenues to protect our patients’ bodily autonomy and right to make decisions about their own health, our physicians’ ability to provide the best possible evidence-based care, and the patient-physician relationship,” the group said in a statement. 

Findley said she’s afraid for the Milwaukee clinic’s patients, who may not have the financial resources to travel elsewhere for a legal abortion. 

“I’m really fearful of women trying to come up with their own abortion methods that may be unhealthy and unsanitized,” she said. 

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin stopped performing abortions Friday due to the SCOTUS ruling. The abortion rights group previously told said it would not schedule any abortions after June 25. 

See more reactions at the press release page: 

— The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association is getting a $4.8 million grant for efforts to boost the state’s nursing workforce. 

This nonprofit group coordinates a statewide network of community organizations. The funding comes from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s Workforce Innovation Grant Program, a release shows. 

It will be used for training efforts for low- to moderate-income residents in 47 counties in the state. They will focus on careers such as certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, medical assistant, associate degree nurse and registered nurse. 

Brad Paul, WISCAP executive director, says the network aims to help families and individuals in the state achieve “true economic security.” 

“The COVID pandemic has made it increasingly clear that a major re-investment in the nursing workforce is necessary,” he said in the release. “This grant from WEDC significantly furthers that goal.” 

See the release: 

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<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

WISCAP: Receives $4.8 million grant from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to support increasing Wisconsin’s nursing workforce

Rep. Armstrong: Appointed to WEDC Board