A vaccine to protect people against bird flu has been developed in Australia, said the country's federal Health Minister.
"The first ever Australian-made vaccine to protect humans from future bird flu pandemics has been granted approval for use in the event, of course, of an avian influenza outbreak," News.com.au quoted Nicola Roxon, as saying.
The vaccine, developed by CSL, would protect humans against the H5N1 strain of influenza responsible for outbreaks of bird flu in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, Roxon said.
"We know, of course, that if there is an outbreak that affects Australians, we need to make sure that we are properly prepared," she said.
She added: "What we now have, courtesy of the work done by CSL ... is an Australian-made and able to be manufactured in Australia vaccine which will be able to respond to any new strain of a virus.
"We are very pleased that now that approvals have been granted that if we are in a situation which, of course, we hope we won't be, of a human-to-human virus taking hold in Australia, we will be able to quickly respond."
In that event, there would be no need to go through the approvals process, Roxon said.
She said the safety of the vaccine had been assessed for adults aged 18-64 and those aged over 65.
The vaccine would be used only once an influenza pandemic had been officially declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Roxon said.
"We hope we are not in a situation that this occurs but it does pay for us to be ready," she said.