06/21/2007, 00.00
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Avian flu: Hanoi announces new drug trials

Vietnam will start next month its first human trial of a H5N1 bird flu, using 20 to 30 volunteers. Decision comes after virus killed a 20-year-old man, infected four other people and triggered more than 100 poultry outbreaks nationwide. United States will provide technical and financial assistance.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Vietnam plans to start its first human trial of a H5N1 bird flu vaccine as early as next month, using 20 to 30 volunteers, health officials said in Hanoi. Vietnam’s drug trial will be the latest of several global efforts to develop a vaccine for mass production.

The news comes as a new wave of bird flu sweeping Vietnam killed a 20-year-old man, infected four other people and triggered more than 100 poultry outbreaks nationwide since last month.

“Preparations for the clinical test of a human vaccine have been basically completed," said Nguyễn Trân Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) in Hanoi.

Health Ministry approval is all that is needed to start trials, which are expected to be wrapped up next year.

American experts would provide technical assistance, said US health attaché Michael Iademarco, adding that Washington had granted US$ 1 million to Vabiotech, a company attached to the NIHE.

Indonesia's Health Ministry said the US Company Baxter Healthcare would start clinical trials in July of a bird flu vaccine in Hong Kong and Singapore.

In April the World Health Organisation said Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, India and Mexico would receive grants to produce flu vaccines.

Bird flu has tended to infect people in close contact with H5N1-positive birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate to be more easily transmitted between humans.

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