27 Jul 2006
Within the last week, Thailand and Indonesia have reported more deaths from the H5N1 bird flu virus. According to the BBC, a teenager from Thailand’s northern Pichit province became the 15th person to die of the virus in that country.
In the case of Indonesia, tests conducted by the World health Organization have confirmed that a 44-year old man who died last week was a victim of the H5N1 virus.
Indonesia has reported the highest number of bird flu deaths this year than any country in the world.
(photo domestic fowls: http://www.njeitimah-outlook.com/albums/album_image/2075996/929380.htm
Meanwhile the giant pharmaceutical firm Glaxo Smithkline is said to be ready to roll out the first vaccine to be used to protect humans against the H5N1 virus in 2007. Clinical trials in Belgium have proved the vaccine to be effective at two small doses of 3.8 micrograms. With vaccines, the size of the effective dose is very important. Vaccine manufactures prefer the effective doses to be as small as possible so as to enable them get the maximum number of shots from a batch of vaccines produced. Glaxo’s chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier was quoted as saying “we expect to make regulatory filings for the vaccine in the coming months.”
Glaxo is just one of the pharmaceutical companies that is in the race to produce a vaccine to combat bird flu. Sanofi Aventis is also reported to be in an advanced stage of producing her own vaccine.
The prospects of having a vaccine soon is very good news as many people around the world have been bracing themselves for the ‘doomsday’ when an epidemic (caused by human to human transmission) of bird flu could break out and cause the deaths of millions around the world.
This news about the impending vaccine should however be received with cautious optimism as questions surrounding its availability in large and affordable quantities and its effectiveness against possible future mutant strains are yet to be properly addressed
Njei Moses Timah