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Wen: We Will Conquer Bird Flu

"We overcame the SARS epidemic in 2003, and we will surely conquer the bird flu virus," said Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Thursday when inspecting workshops researching human vaccines and medicines against bird flu.

Accompanied by Vice Premiers Wu Yi and Hui Liangyu, Wen went to the Beijing Kexing Biological Product Company on Thursday morning.

Kexing, the first in the world to develop SARS vaccines, is now working with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention to on human vaccine research.

Chinese scientists have reportedly developed human vaccines for the bird flu and will carry out clinical tests soon.

Millions of chickens, ducks, geese and other poultry have been culled after bird flu outbreaks were reported in Xinjiang, Liaoning, Hubei, Anhui and Hunan provinces.

China's health authorities confirmed on Wednesday the country's first two human cases of bird flu.

The two confirmed cases involve a nine-year-old boy in Xiangtan County in Hunan Province, and a 24-year-old woman in Zongyang County in Anhui Province. The boy has been discharged from hospital. The woman died on November 10.

"The public pay great attention to vaccine safety issues, which should not be overlooked," Wen told company leaders.

Wen also visited the institute that is researching and manufacturing medicines for the treatment of human cases of bird flu..

"The current situation in China is serious, " Wen said after his inspection tour.

"Prevention of human infections of bird flu and safeguarding people's health and safety are the focus of our prevention work," he said.

The efficient prevention and controlling of the spread of the epidemic depends on science and technology, he added.

He also called for further progress in bird flu vaccine, medicine research and production, as well as the monitoring of migratory birds.

China hastened to fight bird flu earlier this month, when it was decided at a cabinet meeting chaired by Wen to set aside 2 billion yuan (US$248 million) to check the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, China announced plans to vaccinate its more than 14 billion poultry.

(Xinhua News Agency November 18, 2005)

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