Indonesia’s efforts against bird flu hit a roadblock with the World Health Organization (WHO) announcing the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus. The WHO has established that the deaths of seven members of a family most likely occurred due to one member transmitting the virus to the other six. The case findings were distributed at a closed meeting in Jakarta attended by some of the world's top bird flu experts. However, WHO officials emphasized that the virus had not undergone any mutation and the chances of a global pandemic had not increased.
An avian flu vaccine made in China is being seen as probably a better alternative to western vaccines. The Chinese H5N1 flu vaccine is reportedly stimulating a good immune response at lower dosages compared to western vaccines. This is allegedly because the Chinese vaccine is being made using whole viruses while the western manufacturers are using viruses broken into particles. Sinovac, the company making the vaccine, announced that its trials had shown that subjects who had received two 10-microgram doses of the vaccine made with whole virus and alum, showed protective responses. The finding is significant as it would help to stretch the vaccine supply in case of a global pandemic.
The Indian government has decided not to lift the ban on the retail sales of the avian flu drug, Tamiflu. Drug giants Cipla and Roche had sought a review of the ban and permission to sell the drug commercially to private hospitals and organizations. However, officials of the taskforce on avian influenza met at New Delhi and asserted that public health was of greater importance than business considerations and refused to lift the ban. The ban had been declared earlier to prevent panic buying of the drug.
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