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INFLUENZA 2009

Human vaccine tests put off again



The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation decided yesterday to postpone the testing of a type-A (H1N1) influenza vaccine on humans to an indefinite date after researchers failed to stabilise the amount of vaccine that could boost immunity in animals, GPO's board chairperson, Dr Vichai Chokewiwat said.

"The team of researchers followed recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the Russian scientists who transferred technology to us - but it did not work," he said.

Vichai said researchers had stored the vaccine virus at a temperature of -20Celsius but the vaccine virus had not stabilised enough to boost immunity in test animals.

"We are now studying the cause of this unprecedented event and we have to understand that this is a scientific work, so any problem can happen unexpectedly," he said.

Initially, the first human trials in 24 volunteers were scheduled to start on September 5, were rescheduled to September 21, September 24, October 5, and now to some future time.

"We don't want to mark a timeline any more as postponements caused by unexpected incidents might happen again and again," he said.

Vichai said the GPO had informed volunteers about the change in plans, saying the delay in testing on humans would not affect public confidence over development of the vaccine.

He said the GPO had prepared a second plan to boost people's immunity against the new flu virus by ordering 2 million doses of inactivated vaccine from France. The amount would be enough to protect 4 per cent of the population. The first batches are expected to arrive by December.

Vichai said the GPO is consulting and working closely with independent experts from the Philippines and Australia to monitor the process of vaccine development.



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