Egypt, which has the highest number of deaths due to bird flu globally, is to produce its first vaccine to combat the virus, the National Research Centre (NRC) in Cairo has announced.
Since H5N1 first hit Egypt in February 2006, 60 million birds have been officially culled and the costs of poultry production have continuously risen.
The Government has been importing vaccines at high prices to fight this national problem but a locally produced vaccine will be available in the local market at LE305 (about $60) for 100 doses.
The scientists stressed that the vaccine produced by the NRC research team has proved its effectiveness, reaching 95%. Due to the type of virus hitting poultry in Egypt and the vaccine being produced outside the local environment, the imported vaccine achieved an efficacy rate ranging from 20-25%.
Dr Ashraf Shaalan, stressed that the vaccine produced by the Egyptian research team is appropriate for the type of virus hitting local poultry and could be updated to meet the modification of the virus, according to its genetic properties.
He remarked that the new vaccine was produced by a technology based on genetic engineering to improve the immunity of local birds against the virus, if carried by migrating birds. Dr Shaalan noted that the vaccine has been patented and recorded at the world genetic bank.
Two contractors have been signed to manufacture the vaccine on an industrial scale: Vaccine Veterinary Institute affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture and the private company Me Vac.
The State has also agreed to pay more attention to scientific research following a long period of neglect of the demands of the sector.