Vietnam has successfully tested a homegrown bird flu vaccine on chickens and is waiting for the greenlight to test it on humans, officials said Monday.
“The chickens that were given the vaccine have produced immunity,” said Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.
The World Health Organisation had warned Vietnam of the dangers of not adhering to WHO standards when developing the vaccine. The UN health agency is concerned that the virus will mutate and jump the species barrier to humans, causing a world pandemic.
Hien said the WHO has supplied the institute with a prototype virus and they are strictly following the agency’s guidelines.
The institute began working on the H5N1 vaccine last year and tests on mice and monkeys have produced good results, officials have said.
Hien said the institute had asked the Ministry of Health to allow the vaccine to be tested on a group of 10-20 volunteers and then later this year, on a group of 200-300 people who work closely with poultry. The ministry has yet to agree to the proposal, he said.
If tests on humans are successful, the institute hopes to mass produce the vaccine early next year.
Hans Troedson, head of the WHO in Hanoi on Monday said the UN health agency will send experts to help Vietnam develop the vaccine.
Bird flu has killed 38 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four from Cambodia since it ravaged poultry farms across Asia in late 2003.