3 March 2006
WHO: New H5N1 prototype strain, A/Indonesia/5/2005, is available for pandemic vaccine development
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that the WHO Collaboration Centres (WHOCCs) and Reference Laboratories have begin development of several new recombinant H5N1 prototype vaccine strains that represent genetic sub-groups of viruses. One specific H5N1 vaccine strain, made from A/Indonesia/5/2005 by the WHOCC at the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, Atlanta is now “available for distribution, under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)”.
Interested companies and organizations can contact the Global Influenza Programme or the WHOCC at the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia.
WHO also noted that work on H5N1 prototype vaccine strains based on viruses circulating recently in Africa and Europe is underway in other WHO Collaborating Centres and Reference Laboratories.
Meanwhile, plans from 2005 to stockpile an earlier prototype H5N1 vaccine in the USA were updated by the vaccine manufacturer, Chiron Corporation, last Friday (Feb 24). They announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services “agreed to extend delivery terms for a stockpile of H5N1 bulk influenza vaccine”.
Specifically, Chiron reported production of this H5N1 vaccine has been ongoing at its Liverpool, England facility, and that they will “complete approximately 70 per cent of the order before turning operations to annual production of FLUVIRIN® influenza virus vaccine in March” (this month). Chiron anticipates resuming work on this H5N1 vaccine contract after completion of the FLUVIRIN (annual human influenza vaccine) effort in the autumn of 2006.
The real-time WHO Collaborating Centres and international Reference Laboratories are providing a much-needed service in constantly updating antigenic and immunological studies as the H5N1 virus continue to evolve. Whether more than one H5N1 vaccine will become necessary to afford protection against strains that evolve as the virus spreads from three continents (Asia, Europe, and now Africa) is a critical question that only such global collaborative work can best answer.
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH
Director, Center for Biologic Counterterrorism and Emerging Diseases
Washington Hospital Center ER One Institutes
Co-Director, Master of Science Program in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Georgetown University School of Medicine