U.S. develops bird flu vaccine

Aug. 6, 2005 at 8:45 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. government scientists say a vaccine against avian influenza appears to protect people from the deadly disease.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the New York Times the vaccine could be significant if the disease starts spreading from human to human. So far, the avian influenza has killed millions of domestic birds in Asia, and recently in Russia, but has only been diagnosed in 100 people, killing half of them.

The vaccine has received enough testing to be used in an emergency, Fauci said, although licensing is still months away.

"We don't have all the vaccine we need to meet the possible demand," Fauci said. "The critical issue now is, 'Can we make enough vaccine, given the well-known inability of the vaccine industry to make enough vaccine.'"

The influenza strain first appeared in Hong Kong in 1997. A vaccine developed then was never used and the strain has mutated significantly.

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