China now has the ability to vaccinate people against the H5N1 avian influenza virus, the doctor in charge of vaccine research said on Wednesday.
"Chinese researchers have successfully carried out the first phase of clinical tests of the made-in China vaccine with safe and effective results," Lin Jiangtao, head aspiratory physician at China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, told China Daily yesterday.
While a vaccine must pass three phases of tests before it can be put into general use, Lin said: "The vaccine can now be used among residents, especially high-risk groups, if there is an epidemic emergency."
"Chinese scientists are considering giving the vaccine to some people highly vulnerable to the virus, such as workers in chicken-breeding farms, to examine the vaccine's effect under real life conditions," Lin said.
Lin was in charge of tests that started last December and finished two months ago, the results of which were revealed on Monday.
"The vaccine has proven effective because it stimulates 78.3 percent of protective antibodies, exceeding the European Union standard of 70 percent for a flu vaccine."
Further, the vaccine proved safe to use because the 120 participants who were vaccinated showed no serious adverse reactions.
The developers of the vaccine, including the Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Beijing Sinovac Biotech Co, are applying for the second phase of clinical tests.
About 200 volunteers will be used in the second phase test, the date of which will be confirmed when the drug authority gives the green light.
The second-round test will focus on the best vaccination procedure, Lin said.
Researchers will also try to find out how long the vaccine can last, what is the best dose, how many injections are needed for one vaccination, and what the intermittence rate should be.
(China Daily August 31, 2006)