Avian influenza H7N9 - first vaccine candidate virus identified

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Sunday, 26 May, 2013

Great news! The first candidate virus for vaccine production against the new Chinese avian influenza has been produced (WHO 2013). This is IDCDC-RG32A, a reverse genetics virus from isolate A/Shanghai/2/2013. It has passed relevant safety testing and can be handled under BSL-2 enhanced containment. Three other potential candidate viruses have also been identified. A candidate vaccine virus will allow development and testing of a H7N9 vaccine for humans to begin soon.

Development of a vaccine for Influenza A H7N9 is essential.

A fascinating report by the China-WHO Joint Mission on Human Infection with Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Virus (just released) assessed that H7N9 was a serious risk for 4 reasons:
1) the virus has caused serious disease in humans, including death;
2) it does not appear to cause disease in poultry and hence could spread silently and extensively;
3) it has caused more influenza infections and disease in a shorter period of time than any other know avian influenza virus;
4) some H7N9 viruses isolated from humans show genetic changes suggesting that H7N9 may adapt to humans more readily than other avian influenza viruses.

The Joint Mission stated: these findings suggest that the possibility of this virus becoming transmissible among people is higher than for any other known avian influenza virus and therefore it must not be ignored.

References

China-WHO Joint Mission on Human Infection with Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Virus. 18-24th April 2013. Mission Report. Available at http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/influenza_h7n9/ChinaH7N9JointMissionReport2013u.pdf

WHO. Summary of status of development and availability of avian influenza A(H7N9) candidate vaccine viruses. 23 May 2013. Available from http://www.who.int/influenza/vaccines/virus/candidates_reagents/summary_a_h7n9_cvv_20130523.pdf

Posted bt Rick Speare