Taiwan eyes mass production of bird flu vaccines in 2008

TAIPEI - A Taiwanese research team said Monday it had produced a bird flu vaccine that had passed initial animal tests.

‘The vaccine against the H5N1 strain has passed tests on mice,’ said Pele Chuang, the head of a 25-member team at the National Health Research Institute.

The H5N1 bird flu strain is potentially deadly to humans.

The vaccine, using cell culture technology, needs validation by the health ministry before human tests are undertaken.

They are due to be completed before the end of June next year.

If all goes to plan, mass production of the vaccines -- running up to a million doses a year -- would begin late 2008, Chuang said.

‘This is a milestone considering when we started last year, we started from scratch, and now we have developed the capability to produce vaccines,’ he said.

The research project has cost the government some 40 million Taiwan dollars (1.22 million US). Institute officials said the ability to produce indigenous vaccines could be crucial in the event of an outbreak.

Bird flu has killed more than 160 people worldwide since late 2003 and there are fears it could mutate and trigger a deadly human flu pandemic.

A less virulent H7N3 strain was twice detected in samples of bird droppings in Taiwan in 2005 and again in January 2006.

In 2003, Taiwan slaughtered 467,000 birds, mostly chickens, after the H5N2 strain was discovered on chicken farms on the offshore island of Kinmen. (khaleejtimes.com)

please; more info about the avian flu outbreak found in turkeys in England

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