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Australia develops human vaccine for bird flu
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Australia has developed a human vaccine for bird flu, federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced here on Tuesday.

"The first ever Australian-made vaccine to protect humans from future bird flu pandemics has been granted approval for use in the event, of course, of an avian influenza outbreak," Roxon told reporters.

The vaccine, developed by CSL, would protect humans against the H5N1 strain of influenza responsible for outbreaks of bird flu in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, Roxon said.

"We know, of course, that if there is an outbreak that affects Australians, we need to make sure that we are properly prepared," she said.

"What we now have, courtesy of the work done by CSL ... is an Australian-made and able to be manufactured in Australia vaccine which will be able to respond to any new strain of a virus."

"We are very pleased that now that approvals have been granted that if we are in a situation which, of course, we hope we won't be, of a human-to-human virus taking hold in Australia, we will be able to quickly respond," she added.

She also said that in that event, there would be no need to go through the approval process, and the safety of the vaccine had been assessed for adults aged 18-64 and those aged over 65.

More than 160 million dollars (US$150 million) had been provided in this year's federal budget to replenish Australia's vaccine stockpile.

(Xinhua News Agency June 18, 2008)

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