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SARS Vaccines Ready for Clinical Test: Watchdog

Three kinds of vaccine for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are ready for clinical testing after passing an upcoming experts evaluation, according to China's medical authority.

Yin Hongzhang, biology produce section director of the Medicine Register Department of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said Tuesday at a forum on SARS that the developers had declared their achievements to the agency and were preparing detailed information for inspection.

"We are speeding up checks on their claims but the necessary steps cannot be omitted to ensure quality," Yin said.

China spent over six months developing the vaccines since the project was initiated in April, when SARS hit Beijing. The first vaccine was declared to SFDA last November.

The flu-like disease struck over 8,000 patients worldwide. Several provinces of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada's Toronto were on the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of the most seriously affected area.

WHO, health care agency of the United Nations, announced last July that the virus had been contained globally. But there was "no evidence whether it will come back this winter".

"These vaccines might enter clinical testing at an early date. But their effectiveness and safety will only be approved after years of research," Yin said.

WHO predicted that one or two years at least, and up to four or five years would be needed to determine the best vaccine for widespread clinical use.

(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2003)

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