February, 17 2012 11:00:00

Nation develops vaccine to minimise risks of bird flu


A veterinary officer sprays chemicals to prevent bird flu over a herd of ducks in Hai Lang District, Quang Tri Province. Viet Nam may begin producing bird flu H5N1 vaccine for humans next year. — VNA/VNS Photo Ho Cau
HA NOI — Viet Nam may begin producing bird flu vaccines for humans next year, according to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology's director Nguyen Tran Hien.

The institute, which started researching development of the vaccine in 2005, is now producing an experimental version of the vaccine and testing its safety and effectiveness.

"These tests will facilitate the production and use of the vaccine for humans," Hien said.

The institute planned to carry out clinical trials of the vaccine at the end of this year, said Hien, adding that their research results would then be submitted to the Ministry of Health.

The institute's statistics showed that between 2007 and 2010, there were 5 to 7 people contracting bird flu each year in Viet Nam. The cases were reported in provinces across the country, and most people had become infected after being in contact with or eating poultry during the end of winter and beginning of spring. However, there is still no concrete proof that the disease can be transmitted from human to human.

Bird flu has re-emerged in ten provinces across the country, including Thanh Hoa, Quang Tri, Soc Trang and Ha Nam.

Concerns have grown over bird flu recently as the virus is mutating into a new form that will require the development of a new vaccine.

Hien has warned that unless proper preventive measures are taken, more people may catch bird flu.

Funds for prevention

The Ministry of Health plans to spend VND21 billion (US$1 million) on preventing diseases this year.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the work would focus on overseeing and implementing preventive measures and public awareness campaigns promoting health issues.

The Government would also work on developing and issuing legal documents related to the health sector, including the drafting of new guidelines on the sale of disinfectants.

The ministry plans to buy 25,000 kilogrammes of Chloramin B and 5,000 litres of chemicals to support affected localities.

Authorities will also complete legal documents and instructions for preventing and controlling diseases such as hand-foot-mouth disease, Rubella and meningococcal disease. — VNS

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