Australia approves human bird flu vaccine

Australia has approved a locally made bird flu vaccine for humans that researchers hope will provide some protection if the current virus mutates into a new form that triggers a pandemic, the government said Tuesday. Panvax, produced by Australian-based CSL Ltd., is the latest pre-pandemic vaccine that shows effectiveness in humans against the current H5N1 bird flu virus, Health Minister Nicole Roxon said. The government contributed more than 7 million Australian dollars (US$6.6 million) to the vaccine's development and Australia's drug regulator, Therapeutic Goods Administration, has registered its use within the country, Roxon said in a statement. CSL General Manager Mary Sontrop said it was a registration requirement that the vaccine only be supplied in the event of a pandemic declared by the World Health Organization. She added that providing Australians with vaccine would be her company's first priority. She said the vaccine was not yet licensed for sale outside the country.