Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Flu vaccine: good news and bad news

The H5N1 bird flu is endemic in Asia. There is great concern that this could become a pandemic, spreading to people around the world.

This week it was announced that a recent trial shows that a vaccine can protect huamns from this strain of flu virus. That's the good news. The bad news is that to get full protection, much higher doses than expected are required. Instead of a stockpile that would protect more than 2 million people, there are only enough doses for 450,000, and far short of the goal of 20 million doses. The shortage of vaccine during last winter's flu season due to production problems doesn't bode well for rapid manufacture of additional doses.

Learn more about this new vaccine by listening to last Friday's "Science Friday". You can listen using RealPlayer or Windows Media, or download the MP3 file directly.

There was a related program on
recent problems with vaccine production from last March. You can learn more about the science, social issues, and preparedness for the avian flu in the Flu Wiki.

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