The most effective vaccine developed so far to combat the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has been unveiled.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is behind the prototype vaccine, based on a deactivated strain of H5N1 isolated in Indonesia last year.
It was tested on 400 adults in Belgium, using a proprietary adjuvant, an ingredient added to stimulate the immune system and increase the response.
The company said the vaccine provoked a strong response in more than 80% of the people tested – more than any other vaccine in development.
By the end of the year the company will know if it will be possible to mass-produce the vaccine, estimating the cost per dose could be £4.
“These results are highly significant and mark real progress,” said J P Garnier, GlaxoSmithKline’s chief executive officer, although he added: “There is still a lot more work to be done.”
But Prof Peter Dunnill, the chairman of University College London, said: “It would still only allow coverage of five per cent of the global population if all the world’s viral influenza vaccine capacity was used.”