Hungary has developed a vaccine that could protect both humans and animals from the virus causing bird flu, the country's health minister said Wednesday.
"The results are preliminary but I can say with 99.9 percent certainty that the vaccine works" against protecting living organisms from the H5N1 virus, said Jenoe Racz.
Racz was among several dozen Hungarians who underwent bird flu test vaccinations three weeks ago. He said preliminary tests showed that the antibodies to the virus had appeared in his blood. Racz, along with the country's chief health officer and the government's health care commissioner, were the first volunteers to receive the vaccine.
Testing of H5N1 vaccines also is under way in other countries, including Britain
and the United States
Laszlo Bujdoso, the chief health officer, told reporters at the time the experimental inoculations began that the new vaccine will only be widely introduced if bird flu and human flu viruses develop a mutated version that can spread from human to human.
Hungary has the capacity to produce 500,000 vaccinations per week in the event of a world epidemic, Bujdoso added.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu has swept through poultry populations in large swaths of Asia since 2003, jumping to humans and killing at least 65 people - more than 40 of them in Vietnam
- and resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of birds.
Global health experts are keeping a close eye on bird flu because they fear the lethal H5N1 strain could mutate and trigger a human pandemic.