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Countries queue up for Hungarian bird flu vaccine know-how

While a Hungarian vaccine developed to protect humans against H5N1, the deadly bird flu virus, has yet to be licensed, more than 30 countries are already queuing up to buy stocks or to build joint venture production facilities, Portfolio.hu reported citing the Financial Times.

Hungary's Health Minister, István Rácz, said he expected the vaccine would receive domestic marketing authorisation by mid-March. At that point, he said, Omninvest, a small vaccine producer, would be ready to begin producing 500,000 doses a week. Some of the world's largest vaccine producers, such as GlaxoSmithKlein and Sanofi-Aventis, are also working on H5N1 vaccines, but the Hungarians appear closest to rolling out a product. Licensing joint venture production facilities may represent a crucial step both from a commercial perspective and for the international effort to prepare for a human pandemic caused by a bird flu mutation, the FT said. However, Klaus Stohr, senior adviser to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on influenza pandemic vaccine development, stressed that Hungary, like others working towards producing an H5N1 vaccine, had yet to present final clinical evidence that its vaccine was effective.