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Experts Say A Decade Needed To Develop Bird Flu Vaccine

Health experts meeting in Paris have concluded that at least one decade is needed to develop an effective vaccine for the deadly bird flu. Dr. David Fedson, former professor// of medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine told BBC that this conclusion was nothing short of a catastrophe for the public.

"We have had reverse genetics H5N1 viruses available to work with for three years and after three years this is all we can say: 'We could produce enough vaccine worldwide, for 100 million people.' Is that good enough? I don't think so," he said. "Right now, worldwide, we can produce 300 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine, but it turns out that the H5N1 vaccine is so poorly immunogenic and replicates so poorly that... we could immunize globally, with six months of production, about 100 million people."

Professor Albert Osterhaus, a leading European virologist based at the Erasmus Medical Centre, said that if bird flu pandemic were to happen it would not be enough to vaccinate a section of the population.

"If a pandemic were to happen tomorrow, we would not have a vaccine; at least not a vaccine with which we could vaccinate the European population or the American population - and we need a vaccine for the world," he added. "Basically, if we don't invest now in suitable clinical trials, there will be a shortage of vaccine - if we have a vaccine at all."

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