US Stockpiles Bird Flu Vaccine Amid Pandemic Fear 

US Stockpiles Bird Flu Vaccine Amid Pandemic Fear. Credit | Reuters
US Stockpiles Bird Flu Vaccine Amid Pandemic Fear. Credit | Reuters

United States: The US and Europe are both seeking to stockpile or produce H5N1 bird flu vaccines to immunize high-risk individuals, including poultry and dairy workers, vets, and lab personnel. 

Governments are implementing measures to curb the virus’s spread and prevent a potential pandemic, according to officials. 

Recent Developments 

US officials recently announced the conversion of stockpiled vaccines from CSL Seqirus into final doses, with 4.8 million doses being distributed across Kenya and other parts of Africa for the upcoming flu season. 

European health authorities are also in discussions about purchasing CSL’s pre-pandemic vaccine, as reported by Reuters. 

Vaccine Manufacturing Efforts 

Canadian authorities have stated that they sought discussions with GSK, the firm that produces current flu vaccines in Canada, with the aim of procuring and manufacturing a pre-emptive bird-flu vaccine once GSK’s flu-making lines were approved for production. 

US Stockpiles Bird Flu Vaccine Amid Pandemic Fear. Credit | AP
US Stockpiles Bird Flu Vaccine Amid Pandemic Fear. Credit | AP

The cases are in light of recent events in the new strain of bird flu that has infected humans, affected wild birds and different poultry industries, and has lately affected many mammals as well. 

In March, US officials started identifying what is believed to be the origins of COVID-19 in a group of dairy cows that affected as many as dozens of herds in nine states and two employees in the dairy industry. 

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), close to 20 percent of the milk being supplied in the USA is showing the viral effect, which in turn means that the virus has grown to a certain extent. 

In people, transmission may increase through contact with the virus tainted products from poultry and dairy farmers and this increases the likelihood of how the virus mutates and attains the ability to spread from one person to another, reported. 

Expert Insights 

According to Matthew Miller, co-director of the Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub at McMaster University, “All of our efforts need to be focused on preventing those events from happening,” as Reuters reported. 

Dr Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan, said “Once we have widespread infections of humans, we’re in big trouble,” as she had been in discussions with US and Canadian officials. 

Moreover, Dawn O’Connell, of the US Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, said the government was “looking closely” at the possibility of vaccinating farm workers and others in close contact with the virus. 

Pre-Pandemic Vaccine Trials 

At present, the US has entered an agreement with CSL and GSK to test pre-pandemic vaccines that are more similar to the circulating virus than H5N1 vaccines stored. 

In fact, there were events unfolding in relation to the CSL vaccine, the Department of Health and Human Services officer affirmed. 

Before the pandemic, some discussions on the use of vaccines were observable at the governmental and scientific level, and they were occurring in some way even before the pandemic, including in the territory of Great Britain, said Wendy Barclay, an influenza virologist and a distinguished professor at University College London, who also works for the UK Health Security Agency’s Centre for Wildlife, Animals and Zooming Epidemics.