- Hello, Jeff - How can they talk about storing 2 million
doses of bird flu vaccine before clinical trials? How did they get 2 million
doses when they claim to have made only 8,000 doses by noncommercial method
- Am I missing something?
- Bird Flu Vaccines To Be Tested
- By Randolph E. Schmid
- WASHINGTON (AP) - Amid dire
warnings of an Asian pandemic, the government is preparing to test an experimental
bird flu vaccine and is increasing disease surveillance in hopes of reducing
the toll from any eventual American outbreak.
- Antiviral drugs are being stockpiled, and 2 million doses
of vaccine are being stored in bulk form for possible emergency use and
to test whether they maintain their potency.
- United Nations officials warned on Wednesday that the
Asian bird flu outbreak poses the "gravest possible danger" of
becoming a global pandemic.
- Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the federal Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, told the National Press Club this week
that "it is a worrisome situation," though she also said the
United States "is not immediately on the brink of an avian flu epidemic."
- The flu has affected poultry in eight Asian countries,
with 45 human deaths among people who caught the illness, a strain of flu
known as H5N1.
- So far, humans appear to have caught this flu from chickens
and other poultry, and the virus is not known to have spread from person
- What health authorities most fear is that the virus will
mutate into a form that can pass easily from one human to another. That's
when a global threat would be most likely.
- The deadly flu of 1918, which killed from 20 million
to 50 million people worldwide, didn't appear suddenly but mutated gradually
into the deadlier form, Gerberding explained.
- "That's why it's important to have flu vaccine and
antivirals, to be ready to react when it starts to emerge," she said.
- The first doses of an experimental vaccine are almost
ready for testing, antiviral drugs are being stockpiled, and the government
has increased disease surveillance and expanded research programs.
- The new vaccine was prepared in two different concentrations
- 4,000 doses each - and is nearly ready to be shipped to the National
Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases for clinical trials, Len
Lavenda, a spokesman for the pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, said Wednesday.
- NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said the vaccine will
be tested at centers in Rochester, N.Y., St. Louis and in Maryland and
Texas to make sure it is safe and to determine the correct dosage in such
groups as the elderly, children and healthy young people.
- In addition to the vaccine scheduled for trials, Sanofi
Pasteur has produced 2 million doses of bulk avian flu vaccine, Lavenda
said. The vaccine is being monitored for potency to determine if such vaccines
can be produced in advance and stored until needed, he said.
- Lavenda said any decision on using it if avian flu should
spread would be up to the government.
- Fauci said that vaccine could be available for emergency
use if needed.
- The 8,000 trial doses were not made under full commercial
conditions, he said, so the company geared up at the same time to make
2 million doses under commercial production processes, "so that if
the need arises they could rapidly scale up to tens of millions of doses."
- In a normal year more than 100 million doses of influenza
vaccine are prepared for use in the United States. The inability of one
manufacturer to supply its planned 48 million doses caused a shortage this
year, though about 58 million doses were produced.
- Because the flu changes from year to year the vaccine
has to be reformulated annually.
- In Europe, a program called Flupan is under way with
Sanofi, European Union agencies and the University of Reading in England
working on a bird flu vaccine for clinical study.
- CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said that agency has a stockpile
of antiviral drugs that could be used in the event of a pandemic, depending
on the virus that emerges.
- The disease has appeared in poultry in Cambodia, China,
Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
- In an effort to catch any U.S. cases early, CDC has contacted
state and local health departments, hospitals and doctors, urging them
to ask about recent travel by people with flu symptoms.
- It called for testing patients for the bird flu if they
have been in an affected area within 10 days and have confirmed pneumonia
or other severe respiratory problems.
- In addition, CDC said, testing should be considered for
patients with a temperature greater than 100.4 who have visited such countries,
visited a poultry farm and have a cough, sore threat or shortness of breath.
- Major flu pandemics over the last century, according
to CDC, include:
- * Spanish flu that swept the world in 1918-1919 and killed
an estimated 500,000 Americans. Nearly half were young, healthy adults.
- * Asian flu in 1957-1958 was first identified in China.
It claimed 70,000 lives in the United States.
- * Hong Kong flu, 1968-1969 caused about 34,000 American
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health