Sunday, August 7, 2005

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Good news on the whole pandemic thing

I've expressed concern in recent months about the possibility of a pandemic of avian flu emerging from the birds of East Asia. So it's only fair to point out when there is good news on this front. Lawrence K. Altman provides some on the front page of the New York Times:

Government scientists say they have successfully tested in people a vaccine that they believe can protect against the strain of avian influenza that is spreading in birds through Asia and Russia.

Health officials have been racing to develop a vaccine because they worry that if that strain mutated and combined with a human influenza virus to create a new virus, it could spread rapidly through the world. (The vaccine cannot lead to such a situation because it is made from killed virus.)

Tens of millions of birds have died from infection with the virus and culling to prevent the spread of the virus. About 100 people have been infected, and about 50 have died from this strain of the avian influenza virus, called A(H5N1). So far there has been no sustained human-to-human transmission, but that is what health officials fear, because it could cause a pandemic. And that fear has driven the intense research to develop a vaccine.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, said that although the vaccine that had undergone preliminary tests could be used on an emergency basis if a pandemic developed, it would still be several months before that vaccine was tested further and, if licensed, offered to the public.

"It's good news," Dr. Fauci said. "We have a vaccine."

posted by Dan on 08.07.05 at 01:00 PM


Thank god. It could have been the next SARS.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.07.05 at 01:00 PM [permalink]

Too bad that this vacine will, in all likelihood, not work. I suspect this annoucement is more an advance in avian flu public relations than public health.


posted by: Eric on 08.07.05 at 01:00 PM [permalink]

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