China has built up stockpiles of domestically produced human bird flu vaccine in case of a possible epidemic, the nation's food and drug regulator said in Beijing Wednesday.
The vaccine, Panflu, is produced by the Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Co., Ltd. It is designed to defend humans from 18 to 60 years old against the H5N1 virus and its epidemic variety, said Yan Jiangying, a spokeswoman with the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).
According to the Health Ministry, China has recorded eight cases of human bird flu since December with five fatalities.
"In consideration of the serious situation, we've adopted a new measure of simultaneous inspections of the vaccine. That is, the administration and the company check the products at the same time, for efficiency, thus they can be immediately brought into use if outbreaks erupt," Yan said.
She explained that as production of the vaccine takes time, sufficient quantities must be stored ahead of any outbreaks so vaccinations can be started immediately.
Many other countries have also stored human bird flu vaccines in anticipation of a sudden outbreak, she said.
SFDA authorized Sinovac to begin commercial production of the vaccine in April 2008 after more than two years of clinical trials, making China the world's second country with the technology and industrial capacity to produce human bird flu vaccine.
China started clinical research and experiments as part of the process of making a vaccine in November 2005, after a domestic outbreak caused huge losses for poultry breeders.
(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2009)