WHO works with China on SARS, bird flu vaccines


SARS vaccine in production for human clinical trials
China has made much progress in developing the first-ever vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), said World Health Organization (WHO) China representative office Tuesday.

The WHO encourages efforts from every country, including China, to develop the vaccine against SARS and contribute to a worldwide standard for SARS vaccine experiments, Roy Wadia, from the WHO representative office in China, said Tuesday.

China will start a first-phase clinical trial of its SARS vaccine as early as April or May this year after carrying out pre-clinical, laboratory-based studies.

Meanwhile, the WHO influenza network will provide China with prototype vaccine strains to assist developing a bird flu vaccine for humans, Wadia said.


China approves SARS vaccine experiment
The prototype bird flu virus is likely to be available by the end of this month and will be given to vaccine makers around the world, including China, who can produce clinical batches for first-phase tests on humans, he added.

Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Co. Ltd., authorized by the StateDrug Administration, has selected volunteers for the first clinical test of the SARS vaccine in February this year.

The test will take three months in Beijing, south China's Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to make sure whether the vaccine is safe and effective, said the Ministry of Science and Technology of China Monday.

The volunteers, 15 male and 15 female from 18 to 40 years old, will undergo medical examinations and clinical observation.

The vaccine has proven to be safe and effective on animals, including the rhesus monkey with an immune system similar to humans, in pre-clinical studies.

At least ten types of SARS vaccines are under development and four developed by Canada and the United States will go into clinical trials by the end of this year, while those developed in France and Austria will move into this stage next year.

Preliminary clinical trials on a SARS vaccine are underway in China, which gives China the lead in the race to develop the vaccine, the Ministry said.

"Still it is unlikely that an effective vaccine will be available in one to two years since it takes years from pre-clinical trials to actual development and availability of a vaccine for the general population," Wadia said.

The WHO stressed the safety of SARS vaccine experiments since it was a difficult and dangerous process, he said.

China would work with the WHO for a worldwide standard for SARSvaccine, which is vital to evaluate SARS vaccine experiments carried out in the world, said the information department of the Ministry.

Chinese scientists and officials attended an international seminar on SARS vaccines organized by the WHO last week.



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