HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Bird Flu Vaccine

The New York Times reports that there has been a successful testing of the vaccine for a strain of bird flu. The Times article states,

In interviews over recent days, Dr. Fauci has said that tests so far had shown that the new vaccine produced a strong immune response among the small group of healthy adults under age 65 who volunteered to receive it, although the doses needed were higher than in the standard influenza vaccine offered each year. The vaccine, developed with genetic engineering techniques, is intended to protect against infection, not to treat those who are sick.

Further tests are expected to be conducted among two groups - people 65 and older, and children - over the next several months. Dr. Fauci expressed confidence that they would confirm the success of the first tests and answer remaining scientific questions.

Because the vaccine is made in chicken eggs, "a potential major stumbling block" to successful mass production is the number of eggs farmers can supply manufacturers, Dr. Fauci said.

If manufacturers can overcome such hurdles, the new vaccine could go far in averting a possible pandemic of human influenza, Dr. Fauci said.

Before you get too excited about the good news, Effect Measure has some concerns that you may want to take note of: 

Apparently the New York Times got an exclusive from NIAID Director Tony Fauci over the weekend and the other MSM outlets are playing catch-up, citing the NYT story. But why now? The results are only partial, preliminary and very hard to interpret. It appears that the Administration has finally awakened to the bird flu threat--as a PR problem. With stories all over the media about an impending pandemic, many noting the shocking lack of preparation on the ground, the spin machine was put into action, with Fauci again the water-carrier (it is sad to see a good scientists brought so low).

You should read the entire Effect Measure article for an overview of where we appear to be in terms of the development of a vaccine.  [bm]

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