ORDC is increasing significantly the scope and breadth of its Pandemic Influenza Program as the U.S. government prepares for the spread of avian flu. According to the United Nations and the World Health Organization, the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu virus has killed an estimated 200 million birds and infected more than 200 people in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. At least 113 people have died ˇV more than half of those infected. The human cases involved persons who had contact with birds. All cases have occurred outside the United States.
Many noted scientists say it is only a matter of time before avian flu infection is found in birds in North America. The worldwide concern is that rapid spread among birds could lead to a virus mutation that would sustain human-to-human transmission. Such sustained human transmission has not occurred anywhere globally that has been identified. However, the threat is real since humans have no natural immunity to the H5N1 virus.
Under the contract, Tunnell Consulting, which is headquartered in King of Prussia PA, will provide expertise and personnel to support ORDC in achieving five central objectives:
Tunnell has a long history of consulting in the life sciences field and strong experience in the vaccine business and antiviral drug production. Tunnell's highly educated, experienced and skilled life sciences professionals will provide scientific and technical expertise to ORDC. Tunnell will supply project managers and a variety of specialists in clinical affairs, process development, manufacturing, scale-up and regulatory affairs to the Pandemic Influenza Program. Tunnell personnel will be supported from the Washington D.C. office of Tunnell's Government Services Group which administers its MOBIS contracts.
"We are pleased to be chosen by ORDC to support Secretary Leavittˇ¦s efforts in preparing the nation for a possible avian flu pandemic," said Conrad Heilman, a Ph.D. virologist and Vice President of Life Sciences at Tunnell. "The Secretary has shown strong leadership in raising national awareness and preparedness for this threat and we are eager to lend our best efforts and personnel to support this initiative," he said.
The current U.S. capacity for manufacturing influenza vaccines is not sufficient to supply the entire U.S. population in the event of a pandemic. Additionally, there are insufficient stockpiles of antiviral drugs that are effective against avian flu. Tunnell personnel will support ORDC's work with contractors, industry and other necessary parties to expand the U.S. supply of pandemic vaccines and antiviral drugs and develop an effective supply chain.
Tunnell President and CEO Joseph Tempio, Ph.D., says Tunnell is in the distinctive position of providing qualified staff to the Office of Research and Development Coordination. "For decades, we have been helping the life sciences industry solve its most difficult problems," Tempio said. "We know the industry and the public sector. We understand their processes and we know how to get things done."
Since the early 1990's, Tunnell has worked on projects for government agencies including the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Homeland Security.
About Tunnell Consulting
King of Prussia, PA-based Tunnell Consulting integrates strategic, technical, process and organizational skills to boost its clients' business performance. Founded in 1962, Tunnell focuses on the life sciences industry and government agencies, designing and implementing sustainable solutions that improve operating performance. The firm draws on the expertise of its accomplished multi-disciplinary professionals with experience in industry, government and research. Working with many of the world's leading companies and the public sector, Tunnell creates lasting business relationships by providing the right people with the right solutions and results. www.tunnellconsulting.com
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