by Ed Yourdon
Recently, the news has reported that China has developed a new avian flu vaccine that is more efficient in protecting its poultry population against the devastating disease.
This vaccine was developed at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in northeast China, and is said to be the world’s first live vaccine to be used against the bird flu. Scientists there spent about four years in the development this breakthrough vaccine.
This new vaccine can be adminstered several different ways, giving scientists a distinct advantage in possibly getting a handle on the spread of the bird flu. Just like other vaccines, this one can be injected; but it differs in that it can also be given orally, or nasally or conveniently by spraying.
This new vaccine may replace the current vaccine being used in China, as the former had to be injected… putting people at risk due to the proximity.
The Chinese government recently approved the vaccine for mass production, with the current cost being about a fourth of the cost of other vaccines on the market.
Experiments with this new vaccine show that it may also protect some mammals from bird flu (for example… mice). Scientists are hopeful that the techniques learned in developing this vaccine may also help to research and implement a vaccine to protect people from the bird flu.
This new vaccine is great news in the fight against the bird flu H5N1, however with recent human deaths in China, the World Health Organization and other international health bodies have asked China to provide animal samples of the bird flu virus for testing, and China has not done it. Also… there has been no cooperation between Taiwan and China for the exchange of information about the bird flu. Taiwan has said bird flu turned up in exotic birds smuggled by boat to the island from Fujian, where, at the time of writing this, no outbreaks among birds have been reported.