This week, US health officials approved a vaccine to prevent bird flu in humans. The vaccine called Sanofi-Aventis happens to be the first vaccine that has been approved by the US FDA to prevent people from becoming infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus.
The H5N1 Avian Influenza virus has killed a large number of birds and people. It is already known that 172 people out of 291 are infected, says the World Health Organization. If the bird flu virus acquires the ability to pass person-to-person easily, it could definitely spark a pandemic.
However, the Sanofi-Aventis vaccine will not be sold commercially. The US government is buying it for an emergency stockpile for distribution, in case of an outbreak.
According to Norman Baylor, director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, the vaccine was sort of an interim measure until better ones are developed. The dose is higher than the one used in seasonal flu vaccines, and two shots must be given 28 days apart.
“We feel as part of pandemic preparedness, it would be best to have a licensed vaccine. Our review suggests this vaccine is safe and effective,” Baylor concluded.