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Bird flu vaccine approved in Malaysia

Malaysia is the first country outside Europe to approve a pre-pandemic avian influenza vaccine called Prepandrix.

The Malaysia Drug Control Authority recently approved the new vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

GSK Pharmaceutical Malaysia MD Francis Del Val said the company's Prepandrix is a pre-pandemic drug to vaccinate populations prior to a H5N1 avian influenza pandemic. It is designed to provide cross-protection against a range of avian influenza caused by H5N1 strains.

GSK clinical research and development and medical affairs public health physician and director Dr Teoh Yee Leong said Prepandrix was approved by all 27 EU member states as well as Switzerland. "The vaccine has proven in clinical trials that it is immunogenic against a number of H5N1 viral strains, including those circulating in Asia."

Pandemic and pre-pandemic vaccines

Teoh said there were two types of avian influenza vaccines: pandemic and pre-pandemic vaccines. A pandemic vaccine carries the actual pandemic strain and is produced after it has been isolated. The problem with this is that it can take 4-6 months to produce, leaving populations highly vulnerable during the initial period of a pandemic.

Pre-pandemic vaccines are produced before an influenza pandemic and are based on current circulating avian H5N1 influenza viruses.

Source: The New Straits Times

Natalie Berkhout

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