There is currently a medical need for an H5 pandemic vaccine, mainly, as a H5N1pandemic is arguably the current greatest global pandemic threat. The magnitude of risk further demonstrates this need:
- Current death rate is ~60% (30-80% – varies by country)
- Even with marked decrease in virulence, H5N1 could still be far worse than 1918 pandemic (estimated ~1-2%)
- Fouchier and Kawaoka data: small number of mutations needed for mammal-to-mammal transmission
A further concern arises as currently the only resources available to respond are current vaccines. Even with 1% mortality, the need for this vaccine is evident. There remains a critical short-term need for a vaccine to protect the most vulnerable as well as critical first-response personnel (e.g.: healthcare workers, police, etc.) in the initial wave(s). We urgently need to be able to respond to this threat with an effective vaccine more rapidly than it is currently possible. This same logic applies to any pandemic: it is not limited to just that of influenza or H5.
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To be or not to be: can we respond to a rapidly evolving influenza pandemic quickly enough?
- Concerns crystallized by Fouchier/Kawaoka publications
- Needs for rapid and flexible vaccine manufacturing platforms
- Medicago's case study on its plant-derived H5 VLP vaccines
Dr Brian Ward, Professor of Microbiology at McGill University and Medical Officer, Medicago
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