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Ciptapangan Visitor
India says nearly done on local bird flu vaccine
posted by admin on 12/07/06

India has culled hundreds of thousands of birds since February

By Krittivas Mukherjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India is close to developing its own vaccine against avian flu in poultry with final phase trials showing 90 percent success, the head of the country's top animal disease research laboratory said on Monday.

The new experimental vaccine will target the H5N1 strain of the virus that has spread rapidly through poultry flocks in Europe, Asia and Africa and killed 131 people across the world since 2003.

"So far we imported the vaccines, but now we can say we are close to developing our own," said H.K. Pradhan, head of the High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory.

India has culled hundreds of thousands of birds since February when it reported its first outbreak in poultry.

Though no human infections were reported, thousands of people were monitored for flu-like symptoms and the panic saw people staying away from chicken meat and eggs, mauling India's $7.3 billion poultry industry.

Pradhan's laboratory, India's only facility conducting tests for the H5N1 variant of bird flu, isolated 48 virus strains from more than 80,000 bird samples during its vaccine trials.

"I think this will be the best vaccine for bird flu," Pradhan told Reuters by telephone from Bhopal where the laboratory is located.

"We just need to check for a few remaining parameters before we can officially declare. So far, it looks very good," he said, adding tests of the vaccine on birds showed 90 percent of response parameters like anti-body response were met successfully.

The final results will be submitted to federal authorities by July 15.

Vietnam, where 42 people have died of bird flu, is also developing its own vaccine against avian influenza in poultry to replace ones imported from China.

Countries like Thailand which have also had human fatalities plan to test bird flu vaccines on humans while global drug makers like GlaxoSmithKline Plc are rushing to develop a vaccine to protect humans.

Last month, authorities said bird flu had subsided and in six months the country could be declared free from the infection. India is not developing a vaccine for humans but has imported vaccines for poultry from the Netherlands.

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