EU secures 40mn doses of bird flu vaccine as cases rise

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The European Fee has signed a deal for greater than 40mn doses of a vaccine towards fowl flu for 15 international locations throughout the continent, as member states grapple with an increase in instances of the respiratory virus.

The EU’s govt arm introduced the contract on Tuesday, procuring as much as 665,000 vaccine doses — which might be tailored to any fowl flu pressure — from Australia-based producer CSL Seqirus. The deal features a provision for an additional 40mn vaccines over the subsequent 4 years.

The deal comes as governments monitor an increase in bird flu cases in animals after 10 US states reported outbreaks in cattle in latest months, with three instances in people following publicity to dairy cows.

Final week, the World Health Organization reported {that a} farmworker in Mexico had died after contracting the H5N2 variant, a pressure that had beforehand not been detected in people however has been reported in Mexican poultry. There have been no recorded instances of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

The outbreaks have elevated considerations over the security of dairy and meat merchandise. Strains of the virus have been detected in US milk, though pasteurisation kills the pathogen. The tissue of 1 dairy cow was additionally reported to be contaminated however meat from the animal didn’t enter meals provide chains, the US agriculture division stated final month.

Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for well being and meals security, stated: “Whereas the specter of avian influenza to the overall inhabitants stays low, we have to shield individuals at increased threat, akin to poultry and farm staff or sure veterinarians.”

Monitoring by the EU reference laboratory for avian influenza reveals there have been 522 outbreaks of fowl flu detected in wild and captive birds in 27 international locations for the reason that begin of the yr.

Based on the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management, the chance of transmission from animals to people is taken into account low in Europe. A fee spokesperson stated on Tuesday there have been “no reported energetic instances” in EU residents.

The doses will go to individuals most uncovered to the virus, together with farm staff and veterinarians, with the primary cargo heading to Finland. Outbreaks of fowl flu within the Nordic nation’s mink farms final yr raised considerations of transmission to people.

“This settlement will assist in Europe’s resolve to take care of strong preparedness and fast response capabilities for this potential menace,” stated Raja Rajaram, head of world medical technique at CSL Seqirus.

The jabs are being made in CSL Seqirus factories within the Netherlands and England utilizing egg-based manufacturing, a conventional technique for growing vaccines.

The US has a stockpile of flu vaccines from GSK, Sanofi and CSL Seqirus that may present immunity towards fowl flu. It’s contemplating funding a late-stage trial of Moderna’s mRNA-based avian flu vaccine, which may very well be scaled up extra rapidly.

UK drugmaker GSK and German biotech CureVac are additionally collectively growing an mRNA-based avian flu vaccine in early trials.

The European Fee didn’t instantly reply when requested if it was pursuing the same deal.

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