A deletion virus vaccine for H5N1 avian flu, created by reverse genetics, will be ready to go to “any manufacturer that wants it” by mid-April, John Wood of the UK's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) has told The Scientist.

H5N1 has attacked eight Asian countries and killed 100 million birds, and is “historically unprecedented” as an epidemic of this kind, Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases, said on Tuesday (March 16).

According to WHO figures, by March 10 there had been 22 confirmed deaths in humans, all in Thailand and Vietnam, but the organization continues to fear the virus may mutate into a more virulent form.

Addressing a conference in Geneva on preparedness for the next influenza pandemic, Asamoa-Baah warned that WHO was already aware of reports “that H5N1 is causing disease and death in an unusual range...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?