CNN Effective bird flu vaccine - 12/8/2005

link to article in The TIMES

Bird flu vaccine 'works' on people

Monday, August 8, 2005 Posted: 0455 GMT (1255 HKT)

U.S. government and private sector scientists developed the vaccine, which "has been proven effective in humans," HHS spokeswoman Christine Pearson said on Sunday.

Once such issues as dosing levels have been determined, the HHS will decide how much vaccine to produce and have it on hand in the event of a pandemic, she said.

U.S. officials say mass production of the new vaccine could begin within a few weeks.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Associated Press the government was ready to order significantly more than the 2 million doses it acquired from a French vaccine maker before testing began earlier. Those 2 million vaccines were ordered to jump-start the U.S. vaccine stockpile in case the tests were successful.

Tests of the vaccine are being conducted on the elderly and children, the AP reported.

Early testing showed 115 of the first tests on 450 healthy adults showed results suggesting an immune response that could protect against the influenza strain spreading among birds in Asia, the AP reported.

Fauci told AP he expected results from the remaining tests would show similar results.

The bird flu has already killed 57 people of the 112 known to have been infected with it in Asia, most of whom apparently caught it from infected birds.

But scientists worry that the virus could mutate into a form that spreads between humans, sparking a global pandemic.

The World Health Organization has already warned that a "pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent."

Since 1997, the highly contagious disease has either killed or led to the culling of tens of millions of birds.

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