EU secures 40 million doses of bird flu vaccine as infections rise

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The European Commission has signed a deal to supply more than 40 million doses of bird flu vaccines to 15 countries across the continent, as member states grapple with a surge in cases of the virus. Respiratory.

The EU executive announced the contract on Tuesday, buying up to 665,000 doses of the vaccine – which can be adapted to any strain of bird flu – from Australia-based manufacturer CSL Seqirus. The agreement includes provision for an additional 40 million vaccines over the next four years.

This agreement comes as governments oversee one The number of bird flu cases increased in animals after 10 US states reported outbreaks in livestock in recent months, with three cases in humans after contact with dairy cows.

Last week, World Health Organization reported that a farm worker in Mexico died after being infected with the H5N2 variant, a strain that has not previously been detected in humans but has been reported in Mexican poultry. There have been no recorded cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

The outbreaks have raised concerns about the safety of dairy and meat products. Virus strains have been detected in US milk, although pasteurization can kill pathogens. Last month, the US Department of Agriculture said tissue from a dairy cow was also reported to be infected but meat from the animal did not enter the food supply chain.

Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “While the threat of avian influenza to the general population remains low, we need to protect those at high risk more, such as poultry and farm workers or some veterinarians.”

EU reference laboratory surveillance of avian influenza shows that there have been 522 avian influenza outbreaks detected in wild and captive birds in 27 countries since the beginning of the year.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the risk of transmission from animals to humans is considered low in Europe. A commission spokesman said on Tuesday that “no cases have been reported” in EU citizens.

The doses will go to those most exposed to the virus, including farm workers and veterinarians, with the first shipment going to Finland. An outbreak of bird flu on mink farms in the Nordic country last year raised concerns about the possibility of transmission to humans.

“This agreement will strengthen Europe’s resolve to maintain strong preparedness and respond rapidly to this potential threat,” said Raja Rajaram, head of global health strategy at CSL Seqirus. .

The shots are being produced at CSL Seqirus’ factories in the Netherlands and the UK using egg-based manufacturing, a traditional method for developing vaccines.

The United States has an inventory of influenza vaccines from GSK, Sanofi and CSL Seqirus that can provide immunity against avian influenza. It is considering funding a late-stage trial Moderna’s mRNA-based avian influenza vaccinecan be scaled up faster.

British drugmaker GSK and German biotech CureVac are also jointly developing an mRNA-based avian flu vaccine in initial trials.

The European Commission did not immediately respond when asked whether it would pursue a similar deal.


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