International Brief

Jason Quigley reports on the £1m Engineering Prize Announced in UK, and Niamh Emmett reports on the incorrectly stored vaccines in UCLA and UC Davis' decision to pay pepper-sprayed students’ medical costs.The Queen Elizabeth Engineering Prize was announced on November 17th at London’s Science Museum. The ceremony announcing the £1 million prize was attended by Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and Leader of the Opposition Edward Milliband.Prime Minister David Cameron expressed delight at the Queen putting her name to the prize,  which he hopes “will carry the same stature as the Nobel Prizes”.The prize, which is not exclusively for UK citizens, will be awarded every two years for “a groundbreaking advance in engineering which has created significant benefit to humanity”. President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Lord Browne, will chair the awarding trust.Dean of the UCD School of Engineering and Architecture, Professor Gerry Byrne remarked on the significance of the prize, stating that it represented a “development in the effort to raise the profile of engineering in society. Engineering is the leading driver in the development of modern technologies which enhances the quality of people’s lives daily … this prize is enormously significant and a tremendous step forward”.Through the recent publication of the University of California Office of the President’s (UCOP) results of a routine risk review of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus health centres, it has come to light that the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Centre has not been storing vaccines at the temperatures recommended by their manufacturers.The vaccines, which were distributed between January 2007 and August 2011, were possibly rendered ineffective due to the way they had been stored, however, there is no reported cases of them being harmful. The vaccines were distributed to over 12,400 students, both past and present.According to a University spokesperson, all affected students and alumni have been sent email notifications about the vaccines as a precautionary measure. The students in question have been invited to be re-vaccinated at no additional cost. However, they were all advised to seek advice from their doctor prior to the re-vaccination, to take a blood test and to confirm that they have not developed immunity from the vaccines. Many students are calling for UCLA to pay for the blood test along with the second vaccine.The University accepts responsibility for the improper storing of the vaccines but could not confirm why the situation had not come to light sooner.Students from the University of California Davis partaking in a peaceful sit-down protest as a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement on November 18th were pepper sprayed at close range by a police officer in an attempt to break up the protest.The police officer’s reaction to the peaceful protest in the University of California shocked onlookers, with over a dozen videos of the encounter being uploaded to the Internet within the day. UC Davis has recently agreed to cover the affected students’ medical costs.According to a student who attended the protest, “I didn’t even hear a warning for the spraying, just by the students telling us all to turn around, and then we turned and we were sprayed, just like that. One of the cops was yelling at a guy saying he’s going to spray him in the face and then grabs him in the face and sprays him. They grabbed one of the protesters and sprayed it directly in his mouth. We were there peacefully, the tents were down, they had no reason to spray us”.Following the actions carried out by police who were called in by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, Chancellor Katehi has been called upon to resign.