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Monday 24th October 2016

Singapore tries bird flu vaccine

22nd November 2006

11102006_Singapore400.jpgResults have been published of a trial in Singapore of a new vaccine which aims to offer protection against various forms of avian influenza, or bird flu.

Preliminary findings of a trial carried out by manufacturers Baxter show the vaccine can produce antibodies able to neutralise a wide variety of H5N1 strains.

The trial on humans in Singapore showed that more than 75 percent of those injected with the vaccine were able to produce the antibodies.

However it was not yet clear how efficacious the vaccine would be in the case of a real infection with H5N1, as the trials only measured the subjects' ability to produce antibodies.

The vaccine, according to Baxter research chief Noel Barrett, reacts not only with the strains from which it is made, but also with highly divergent strains of H5N1, a virulent form of bird flu which has yet to develop into a form which can pass easily between humans.

Global health experts have warned that a flu pandemic could occur if the virus mutates to a form transmissable between people, and that millions may die before a vaccine is found.

Produced using a cell-based technology and taking about 11 weeks to produce, Baxter's vaccine may offer protection against strains which emerge in 6 months', 12 months', or even two years' time, Barrett said.

Most flu jabs are still made today using a 50 year-old egg-based method, taking up to 28 weeks to produce.

Barrett said the vaccine seemed to work well even at the lowest dose.

An earlier Baxter study found that 100 percent of mice immunised with the vaccine survived the Vietnam strain, the Hong Kong strain and the Indonesian strain of the H5N1 virus.

The clinical trial involved 270 healthy adults from Singapore and Austria and was carried out between June and September this year.

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