Chinese scientists have developed two new vaccines which they claim are fully capable of stopping the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in birds and poultry, state media said Thursday May 26.
Chen Hualan, director of the China National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory, said the new vaccines developed by her laboratory proved to be a success, the Xinhua news agency said.
They passed a state-level appraisal and received permission from China’s Ministry of Agriculture to be sold on the market, the report said.
“Experiments show the efficiency rate of the newly developed vaccines in preventing infection by the H5N1 virus is 100%,” Chen was quoted as saying.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) cautioned that while some bird flu vaccines were effective by reducing the amount of virus in the birds, others may be masking the problem.
“In some cases, there’s an argument that what you’re reducing are the symptoms in birds, but that they still have the virus and are still shedding the virus,” Maria Cheng, a Beijing-based WHO spokeswoman, told Agence France-Presse.
The vaccine announcement came as China was gripped by the first confirmed outbreak of bird flu in nearly a year after migratory birds were found to have died from H5N1 in northwest Qinghai province.
The discovery launched the country into a massive vaccination drive, which aims to cover three million birds.
A total of 54 deaths from the H5N1 virus have been reported in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. No human cases have been reported in China so far.
The WHO renewed warnings last week of a pandemic after a study in Vietnam showed signs of greater risk of human-to-human transmission of bird flu being possible.