Australia starts trial of swine flu vaccine
ADELAIDE, Australia - The world’s first human trials of a swine flu vaccine have begun in Australia, drug company officials said yesterday, with the aim of controlling the virus that has so far killed more than 700 worldwide.
Two biotechnology companies have started injecting adult volunteers in the southern city of Adelaide with their vaccines. Adelaide-based Vaxine began trials Monday with 300 subjects, and Melbourne’s CSL has 240 people in its seven-month trial, which started yesterday.
At least 41 people have died in swine flu-related illness in Australia, which is well into its winter flu season.
Meanwhile, the US government called yesterday for several thousand volunteers to start rolling up their sleeves for the first swine flu shots, in a race to test whether a new vaccine really will protect against the virus before its expected rebound later in the year in the United States.
The first shots should be given by the second week of August.
A network of medical centers around the country is enrolling for the series of studies directed by the National Institutes of Health.
First, doctors will test different doses of the swine flu vaccine in healthy adults, including the elderly - two shots, given 21 days apart.
If there are no immediate safety concerns, such as allergic reactions, the same testing quickly will begin in babies and children, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Australia had confirmed 14,703 cases of swine flu as of yesterday. The worldwide death toll from swine flu is more than 700, according to the World Health Organization.