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SPECIAL ON BIRD FLU
 
In the fight against bird flu
Special Correspondent
8/9/2006
 

          The World Health Organisation (WTO) is the agency most active in coordinating the fight against bird flu. It is working with national authorities in Asia and other continents in conjunction with the efforts of the governments and related agencies and personnel in animal and agricultural sectors and also those of the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the international community. The WHO has detailed information needed to understand the disease, preventive measures that can be adopted and also advice and recommendations for people living in infected areas in its website http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ avian_influenza/en/ index.html.
Currently there is no vaccine is available that is being sold commercially though clinical trials are going on in various laboratories in the Research and Development( R&D) facilities of various pharmaceutical companies. Four anti-viral drugs are used to treat an avian flu infection these days. They are -- Oseltamvir, Zanamivir, Amantadine, and Rimantadine. Amongst the list, the United States Food and Drug Administration have approved only Oseltamivir (USFDA) for both prevention and treatment of influenza infection.
The following Reckitt Benckiser surface care and germ protection products have been tested and found effective against Avian Influenza H1N1, a closely related strain to H5N1, according to sources in the company. These products are: Dettol Liquid, Dettol Fresh Liquid/Dettol Antibacterial Disinfectant, Dettol Disinfectant Spray (Yankee formula) and Lysol Disinfectant spray, Dettol Skincare Soap, Dettol Sensitive Soap, Dettol Cool Soap, Dettol Original Soap, Dettol Fresh Soap, Dettol Skincare Hygienic Liquid Hand Wash, Dettol Hygienic Liquid Handwash (Appendix formulations), Dettol Pine Medicated Liquid Hand Soap, Dettol Mildly Medicated Shower Foam Pine, Dettol Hygienic Shower foam Sensitive Skin, Dettol Fresh Mildly Medicated Shower Foam (Appendix formulation), Dettol Cool Hygienic Shower Foam, Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Sanitizer, Dettol All Purpose Cleaner Pine Non-clouding, Dettol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner, Dettol Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner, Dettol Hygienic Personal Wipes.
More recent studies indicated that Dettol Brown Liquid is also effective against the current Avian Influenza strain H5N1 inactivating >99.9% of the virus. "Since we have proven efficacy against the closely related strain H1N1 and for Dettol liquid also H5N1, we can have every confidence that all of the above products will be equally effective against H5N1" claims a local official of Reckitt Benckiser.
GSK Breakthrough in Vaccine: In a development that would make everyone -- among those working in the fields against the spread of bird flu -- and common people optimistic, GlaxoSmithKline has announced a major and real breakthrough in the potential development of a vaccine that can be the first real step toward imagining a commercially available vaccine against the bird flu. This would help protect mankind against the most perfidious threat to the health of common people the world over.
In a press released issued on July 26, GSK announced that a clinical trial a potential vaccine for the H5N1 flu virus showed a high degree of immune response in a low dosage of antigen. "The vaccine, which uses a proprietary adjuvant, enabled over 80% of subjects who received 3.8g of antigen to demonstrate a strong seroprotective immune response", stated the press release.
In a further explanation, the press explained: "In this study, immune response was defined as the increase in the number of antibodies an individual produced in response to the vaccine. Levels of antibody protection were established through measurement of hemagglutination inhibition (HI), hemagglutination being the clumping together of red blood cells, which cannot occur when antibodies are present. HI is a standard efficacy measure used in the evaluation of influenza vaccines, and an individual with an HI titer of greater than 40 is considered to be protected, or to have 'seroprotection'. In this clinical trial, over 80% of subjects, who received 3.8g of antigen with adjuvant, demonstrated a seroprotective immune response".
JP Garnier, GlaxoSmithKline's Chief Executive Officer, said: "These excellent clinical trial results represent a significant breakthrough in the development of our pandemic flu vaccine.
This is the first time such a low dose of H5N1 antigen has been able to stimulate this level of strong immune response. There is still a lot more work to be done with this programme, but this validation of our approach provides us with the confidence to continue developing the vaccine, including assessment of its ability to offer cross-protection to variants of the H5N1 strain. All being well, we expect to make regulatory filings for the vaccine in the coming months."
It should be mentioned that GlaxoSmithKline is yet to receive registration or approval from any authorities regarding the potential of this drugs. Once that is sought and in all likelihood such approvals would be readily available if the tests results bear out, then the world will be able to breath much easier.
A vaccine is the only truly effective preventive agent against any disease simply because the price of a vaccine, after commercial production is done, is always within the manageable range for health officials of all nations including the most developing of economies.
Responding to queries about the potential price of any vaccine that GSK may come out with, GSK Chief executive Mr. J.P Garnier indicated that the price would be very within the vicinity of the GSK flu medication available in the market.

 

 
  More Headline
In the fight against bird flu
Pharmaceuticals, healthcare services showing promise
GlaxoSmithKline makes vaccine breakthrough
Bird flu pandemic in Bangladesh: Red alert!
What is avian influenza?
 

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