bird flu, avian flu, pandemic

Bird Flu Vaccines Being Developed Show Possible Success

Three experimental vaccines which use live but weakversions of the H5N1 bird flu virus appear to protect animals from infection, and might offer a quick way to stockpile vaccines ahead of a bird flu pandemic, U.S. researchers said.

This new approach to respond to bird flu is already being tested in people, and might provide the start of a buildup of vaccines against various potential strains of bird flu pandemic.

“We have been developing live, attenuated influenza virus vaccines because they have properties that make them attractive vaccines for the prevention of pandemic influenza in humans,” the researchers wrote in the online journal Public Library of Science-Medicine.

Unlike the other experimental bird flu vaccines which are being developed, it takes only a single dose of a live, weakened bird flu vaccine to stimulate a good immune response, the bird flu researchers said.

“If an influenza pandemic were imminent or underway, we would need a vaccine that could stimulate immunity quickly, preferably with a single dose,” said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The bird flu H5N1 virus has infected just 244 people and killed 143 worldwide , governments, companies and other organizations are racing to produce a vaccine. Bird Flu expert J. Rinard says that, “If a this weakened bird flu vaccine is successful many different vaccines will be created for the various bird flu strains.”

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