It has been proposed to initiate mass-production of a live bird flu vaccine for dual protection against bird flu and Newcastle disease before the start of next year in China. This move is further anticipated to lead to the development of a vaccine for humans.
More than 1-billion units of the vaccine are believed to be produced by the year-end. This would be a supplement to the already existing vaccines, according to Jia Youling, a chief veterinarian. The newly developed vaccine, with only one fifth the cost of the inactivated vaccine, can be given in the form of a spray, oral or nasal preparation.
Inactivated viral vaccines, used for bird flu prevention contain the inactivated form of the virus, which means that the preparation contains the dead virus. Live vaccines however contain the live form of the virus, in its attenuated form.
Outbreaks of Newcastle disease in China during September, killing nearly 57,000 chickens and reports of 141 confirmed human bird flu cases in the Asian region is said to have prompted for research and production of new vaccines against both diseases.
The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has claimed two lives in China alone and infected 6 others. So far no case of human-human transmission has been recorded. It is however feared that it can lead to a human pandemic if the virus mutates itself into a more virulent form.
Widespread poultry vaccination of more than 5 billion birds and effective implementation of a strict monitoring for bird flu outbreak has to a larger extent helped in restricting spread of the disease. An initial result of human trials of a native bird flu vaccine is expected to be released within three months.
On the whole, the picture in China represents a ray of hope for effective management of bird flu.