China Claims It Has New Vaccines To Fight Bird Flu

Chinese scientists have developed two new vaccines which they claim are fully capable of stopping the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in birds and poultry. The announcement came as internationally-renowned US scientist David Ho warned China remained woefully ill-equipped for tackling avian flu. Chen Hualan, director of the China National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory, said the new vaccines developed by her laboratory had proved to be a success, the Xinhua state news agency reported Thursday. They passed a state-level appraisal and received permission from China's Ministry of Agriculture to be sold on the market, the report said. "Experiments show the efficiency rate of the newly developed vaccines in preventing infection by the H5N1 virus is 100 percent," Chen was quoted as saying. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that while some bird flu vaccines were effective by reducing the amount of virus in the birds, others may be masking the problem. "In some cases, there's an argument that what you're reducing are the symptoms in birds, but that they still have the virus and are still shedding the virus," Maria Cheng, a Beijing-based WHO spokeswoman, told AFP. The vaccine news came as China was gripped by the first confirmed outbreak of bird flu in nearly a year after migratory birds were found to have died from H5N1 in northwest Qinghai province.

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