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Ciptapangan Visitor
Bird flu vaccine mass production begins
posted by admin on 25/07/06

Surinder Sud / New Delhi July 24, 2006

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has begun mass production of the indigenous bird flu vaccine to pile up a stock of at least three to four lakh doses.

ICAR Director-General Mangala Rai said the council already had about 5,000 doses of the new vaccine. This was developed by scientists of the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory of the ICAR in a record four months.

The ICAR had provided Rs 8 crore to this laboratory, the only one of its kind in the country, to develop this vaccine after the outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in February in the areas around Navapur and Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

This had resulted in the death of thousands of birds and culling of about 10 lakh others in the area. The poultry industry had suffered substantial economic losses and is still struggling to get back on its feet.

Rai said all tests and trials for the new vaccine were over. The last test was conducted on July 14 and the vaccine has now been given clearance for large scale production.

HSADL has capacity to produce 40,000-50,000 doses of this vaccine every month. “Production can be enhanced to produce if the need arises,” the ICAR chief added.

He said that although he hoped the viral disease will not recur in the country, the chances could not be ruled out, especially when temperatures drop after October. “But the ICAR is ready to cope with any contingency,” Rai maintained.

So far, there are only two internationally recognised drugs which are believed to be useful for prophylaxis (prevention) and treatment of bird flu. These are oseltamivir (commercially marketed under the Tamiflu brand) and zanamivir (commercially called Relenza).

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), laboratory studies of these drugs have shown they can reduce the severity and duration of the illness caused by seasonal influenza. Both of these are patented drugs and need to be imported.

According to HSADL sources, the indigenous vaccine is a “killed homologous vaccine”, developed from the cell culture of birds suffering from the H5N1 bird flu virus that had surfaced in February. The cell culture virus was inactivated by different concentrations of formalin for the production of the vaccine.

During trials, the laboratory had used three preparations of the vaccine containing 1,000, 10,000 and 1,00,000 TCID (tissue culture initial dose) virus per dose, respectively.

The preparation, containing 1,00,000 TCID virus, was found to provide 90 per cent protection against the bird flu. This vaccine gave the best results when administered intramuscularly to the birds.

The laboratory is also working on developing other vaccines, including a DNA vaccine, against bird flu but that is expected to take some time, it is pointed out.

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