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Bird flu very much on Chinese minds in run-up to Olympics

beijing2008_logo.jpgLast week's press release from the Chinese government regarding the so-far-succesful creation of a human vaccine against H5N1 avian influenza was picked up by China Daily and Reuters and broadcast to the world.  The Chinese were ready to manufacture some 20 million doses of a trivalent bird flu prepandemic vaccine.  This followed a test of 500 "volunteers" (I am sorry to be so cynical about how the Chinese categorize "volunteers".  

Now, I find it interesting that the Chinese were making a trivalent H5N1 vaccine.  Hypothetically, it would guard against Clades 2.1 through 2.3.  Or maybe it would guard against clade 1.0 and Clades 2.2 and 2.3.  I don't know, and I am counting on those who do know to post a response.  Of equal interest is the Chinese government's initial denial that Clade 2.3 (also called "Fujian") even existed.  But after they saw the evidence, they stomped off and started killing Tibetian monks in frustration, I suppose.

Anyway, the line I am most interested in comes toward the end of the news story. 

"It's also part of the task to secure an outbreak-free Beijing Olympics," she (SFDA spokeswoman Yan Jiangying) added.

I have speculated as early as last year that the Chinese government would go to extraordinary lengths to make sure H5N1 did not rear its beak during the ultimate sports spectacle.  Nothing like starting a pandemic at the javelin throw to draw bad publicity and start a worldwide economic depression.  So the Chinese will act quickly, decisively and without regard to consequence in order to keep H5N1 out of sight.  See my blog from last September, A problem of Olympic proportions, for refreshment. 

Here's the article about the vaccine:

Bird flu vaccine for humans approved

By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-03 07:18


A homegrown vaccine for humans against the H5N1 influenza virus, commonly known as bird flu, was Wednesday approved by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).

Worldwide, only the United States and the European Union have approved human vaccines against bird flu.

The SFDA approval follows two rounds of clinical tests involving 500 volunteers from 2005 to 2007.

The vaccine will enhance the country's capability to protect people from an influenza pandemic, said SFDA spokeswoman Yan Jiangying.

"Almost all known human bird-flu cases are caused by the H5N1 strain," said Yin Hongzhang, head of the biological product department of the SFDA.

But given the constant mutation of the bird-flu virus, it might be another strain instead that could trigger a pandemic, he added.

Yin Weidong, CEO of Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech and the vaccine maker, said in case of a pandemic, the WHO would offer the identified viral strain in three weeks for the producer to incorporate into the vaccine.

The production time for a vaccine against a new strain would take about four months, he said, adding that it takes two months for the H5N1 virus.

The vaccine-induced immunity lasts a year, similar to that of a seasonal flu shot, he added.

The company can churn out at least 20 million doses of the trivalent vaccines, Xinhua News Agency reported earlier.

Yan noted that the company will not sell the vaccine commercially.

"It will be purchased by the government for inclusion in the national strategic stockpile."

She said the SFDA streamlined approval procedures for the vaccine.

"It's also part of the task to secure an outbreak-free Beijing Olympics," she added. (bold mine)

Some 373 people worldwide have been infected with the virus since 2003, of whom 236 have died, according to the WHO. China has recorded 30 infections and 20 deaths.

To date, H5N1 influenza has remained primarily an animal disease, but experts fear the virus could acquire the ability for sustained transmission among humans.


Despite the Chinese government's efforts, H5N1 is absolutely entrenched in the nation, and will not go quietly into that good night.  Three people have already died from H5N1 since January, and the virus' ability to mutate and kill evoked the famous Dr. Zhong Nanchan commentary of last month. 

Birds routinely test positive for H5N1 in southern China, including Hong Kong and the notorious Guangdong Province.  Now bird flu has reappeared in Tibet.  From today's Reuters:

China reports birdflu in Tibetan poultry
07 Apr 2008 13:14:13 GMT
Source: Reuters
 BEIJING, April 7 (Reuters) - China said on Monday that an outbreak of birdflu had killed 268 chickens at a poultry farm in the Tibet region.


Tests by a national laboratory showed the birds had died from the H5N1 strain of the virus, but it is now under control in the affected area, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on its Web site (www.agri.gov.cn).


Bird flu tends to be more active in low temperatures and since the start of this year China has reported three confirmed human deaths from the disease and several outbreaks in poultry.


With the world's biggest poultry population and hundreds of millions of farmers raising birds in their backyards, China is seen as crucial in the global fight against the virus. (Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Jerry Norton)

I am sure the Chinese government will move swiftly and decisively to cull poultry in Tibet.  Let's hope the Chinese authorities know the difference between poultry and, say, monks.

Reader Comments (1)

"It's also part of the task to secure an outbreak-free Beijing Olympics,"she (SFDA spokeswoman Yan Jiangying) added.

That is exactly right.

Who in the CCP cares about what happens to most of the people in China, let alone to the Tibetan people, after the Great Beijing Olympics has come and gone?

Mind you, I am sure that the Karmic penalties are not only accumulating for the Chinese authorities in their persecution of the people of Tibet and other crimes against the Chinese people.

All of us who are now totally dependent on the "bargain" goods and "economic growth" from the most repressive and cruel regime in the world, will no doubt share in the terrifying karmic consequences of our cowardly silence and the implicit condoning of all that the Chinese are doing.

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbirdflunewsflash

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