BIRD-FLU VACCINE: Sudarat approves trial talks with US

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USCDC reports successful testing on small and large animals, says Paijit

Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan has agreed in principle with procedures that may see Thailand helping to test a US-developed bird-flu vaccine on humans.

She gave a green light yesterday to official contact between Thai health authorities and US government agencies concerning the vaccine.

Department of Medical Sciences director-general Paijit Warachit said a team of experts had been assigned to contact the US Centres for Disease Control (USCDC) in the first government-to-government contact. More information on the H5N1 avian-flu vaccine trials would be its first priority.

He said the USCDC had reportedly completed tests in small and large animals, and was about to start the first phase of human tests in a small group of volunteers.

“If Thailand wishes to join, it might be in the third phase which is the testing of vaccine efficiency,” Paijit said.

When enough was known about the vaccine, the US National Institute of Health would be asked what role it saw for Thailand in the human testing. At that point, Paijit said, the team would make a recommendation to the government about Thailand’s participation.

He said the team was also thinking of obtaining information from the European Union about reported success there in producing a bird-flu vaccine.

Paijit said Sudarat had also approved a three- to five-year plan for the Medical Sciences Department, along with other agencies, to develop a human flu vaccine so Thailand could be self-sufficient.

Other agencies involved would include the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation and the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Technology.

The permanent secretary for public health, Wichai Thianthavorn, said that if the government approved human trials in Thailand for the US vaccine, they would not take place for three to four years.

Preparations would have to be made to realise benefits to Thai people from the procedure, as well as careful consideration of safety, Wichai said.

Published on Mar 07 , 2005

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