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China: Bird flu vaccine for human use developed
(China Daily/AP)
Updated: 2005-11-15 06:08

Chinese scientists have developed a vaccine against human infections of bird flu, the government said yesterday.

Chinese health worker disinfects a motorcycle at the entrance to a bird flu-hit village in Jingshan County, central China's Hubei province November 13, 2005. [Reuters]

Clinical testing on people will begin soon, Liu Yanhua, vice-minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

If the tests are successful, it would be the first vaccine in the world to treat human cases of bird flu.

Experts hailed the progress, saying it demonstrates that China is at the forefront of research to fight the deadly disease.

Should human infections be found, the government is capable of containing their spread and ensure public health, they said.

Chinese scientists described the vaccine as an equivalent to Tamiflu, the anti-viral drug made by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding AG, which is so far the only medication found to be effective against bird flu.

Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, was earlier quoted by Information Times newspaper as saying the drug would be effective in treating the virus.

No other details about the medicine have been released.

The government is also stepping up production of bird flu vaccine for fowls.

The Ministry of Agriculture said that the country now produces more than 100 million doses daily, but some affected areas have reported a shortage.

The ministry said it would accelerate production of the vaccine by expanding capacity with the addition of two factories.

Meanwhile, a highly-pathogenic bird-flu outbreak has been reported in a village near Huainan city of East China's Anhui Province, the ministry said yesterday. It is the ninth such outbreak in China since last month.
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