BUDAPEST - In what is the first promising news regarding the deadly bird flu virus, the Hungarian veterinary services department (ANTSZ) has said that a prototype of a vaccine developed against the disease was proving effective against birds.
'The effectiveness of the prototype vaccine against the Asian H5N1 strain of bird flu is proved among poultry and so it can be used to vaccinate them. If the clinical trials are positive this prototype will serve as a basis for the production of a real vaccine,' said ANTSZ president Laszlo Bujdoso said in a statement. The vaccine was developed from isolated cells of the H5N1 strain and is effective against it. The Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has announced that all of the country's citizens would be vaccinated for free and that the cost of this would be borne by the commercial sales of the vaccine to other countries. The results of the human trials are expected on Wednesday or Thursday.
If these results are positive, we will immediately launch the procedure for putting on the market and mass producing the vaccine,' Gyurcsany said in an interview on national radio. The government has said that it can produce 500,000 doses of the vaccine per week and estimates that 3.5 million of the country's 10.6 million people need to be vaccinated to avert the predicted pandemic. The total cost of providing free vaccines is estimated to be almost a billion Hungarian forints (4.0 million euros, 4.7 million dollars). 'If we are among the first in the world to be able to offer such a vaccine, you can imagine how many (doses) we will be able to sell,' Gyurcsany said adding that this would allow them to vaccinate their citizens free of charge.
Scientists fear that if the virus mutates, it can be easily transmitted form human to human and could trigger a worldwide pandemic. Hungary has said that since the mutated virus does not currently exist, there is no vaccine for it.