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A new bird flu vaccine has been approved in the US, but falls a long way short of eliminating the need for other measures, according to the head of the organisation which authorised the drug.

Other anti-bird flu measures may include personal protection equipment such as face masks in the event of an airbone pandemic.

The vaccine, which has been developed in the United States and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week, produced an immune reaction in only 45 per cent of cases, much less than the success rate of a standard vaccine for common strains of flu.

Norman Baylor, director of the FDA's office of vaccines and research, said: 'This is a sort of interim measure,' adding that the search for a more effective medicine goes on.

As a result, the possibility remains that a high number of face masks and other protective equipment may be required in Britain and elsewhere, should the H5N1 strain of bird flu develop a form that can be spread through human to human contact.

So far the UK has suffered only one major outbreak of the virus, at a turkey farm in Suffolk earlier this year.


track© Adfero Ltd

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