Aventis Pasteur awarded bird-flu vaccine in US

29th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 29 (AFP) - The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis said Wednesday it had won a USD 13 million (EUR 10.57 million) contract to produce bird-flu vaccine as a potential safeguard for health workers in the United States.

PARIS, Sept 29 (AFP) - The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis said Wednesday it had won a USD 13 million (EUR 10.57 million) contract to produce bird-flu vaccine as a potential safeguard for health workers in the United States.  

Under the deal, the Sanofi-Aventis human-vaccines business, Aventis Pasteur, will produce two million doses of bulk vaccine at a plant in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania.  

The vaccine is a hybrid, comprising a contagious flu strain that is used in standard flu vaccine, and genes taken from a strain of H5N1 bird flu isolated from a Vietnamese patient last year.  

The contract was awarded on September 21.  

In a statement, the US Department of Health and Human Services said that if a pandemic of H5N1 did break out, the new vaccine would be distributed to protect US laboratory workers and public health personnel "and, if necessary, the general public".  

The United States is the first country to take this preventive step, although other countries are taking exploratory measures in the same direction.  

Bird flu is the term for a form of influenza that has circulated amongst poultry in Southeast Asia but has also claimed human casualties.  

The worry is that the flu could mutate further, enabling it not only to infect humans but also become transmissible from humans to humans - a mortal and highly contagious agent akin to the flu strain that killed tens of millions of people after World War I.  

The first "probable" detected case of human-to-human infection was confirmed in Thailand on Tuesday, involving a mother and a daughter.  

Samples from those patients are now being genetically examined to see whether the virus has mutated into a more vicious form.  

Asia has been hit by two waves of bird flu since December last year. At least 10 people have died in Thailand and 19 in Vietnam. More than 100 million birds have been killed across the region.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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