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They are afraid of a new pandemic, and have begun searching for the latest vaccine

They are afraid of a new pandemic, and have begun searching for the latest vaccine

Avian influenza, which has been around for as long as human history, is once again a concern among scientists, especially because of its spread among American livestock and dairy products, reminding us BBC a report. The channel spoke with epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, interim director of the Department of Preparedness, Prevention and Pandemics at the World Health Organization, about what the process of producing and introducing a human vaccine against bird flu might look like.

The devastating impact of the disease on humans has been known since the great influenza pandemic of 1918, but since the emergence of the H5N1 strain, it has mainly caused epidemics in animals. In the United States, cats have already died from the milk of cattle infected with the virus.

Human-to-human transmission remains rare, causing 463 deaths since 2003, with a mortality rate of more than 50%. However, a change in the virus's ability to spread between mammals is cause for concern, as it could increase the chance of mutations and thus more efficient spread among humans.

Gabor Kemenesi, head of the National Laboratory of Virology at the University of Pécs, reached similar findings in his interview with Portfolio:

According to the World Health Organization, there is currently no need for a human vaccine, but there are systems and plans in place to produce a final vaccine. Using the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) framework H5N1 vaccines are already in development.

The possibility of accelerating vaccine production exists if it is proven that the virus has the potential to cause a pandemic. Currently, egg-based manufacturing processes are being used that can produce between four and eight billion doses of the vaccine within 12 months. The World Health Organization has access to some of this production in emergency situations.

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The expert who spoke to the BBC stressed that governments have a special role to play with regard to increasing confidence in vaccines. Managing misinformation will be key to the successful introduction of a potential human vaccine.

Cover photo: Source: MTI Photo/Atef Szafadi

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