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GSK bird flu vaccine is the 'best so far'

Scotsman News

PHARMACEUTICAL giant GlaxoSmithKline claims to have created the most effective vaccine so far against the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) says its vaccine produces the highest reported immune response at a low dosage because of a special "adjuvant" - an ingredient which stimulates the immune system and boosts the body's response to the vaccine.

The vaccine - which has not yet been peer-reviewed - could be used in lower doses, making it cheaper to produce, it was reported today.

GSK chief executive JP Garnier hailed it as "a big breakthrough" and said the company could produce hundreds of millions of doses by Christmas.

No final decisions have been made about cost, but it could be as little as £4 a dose.

Earlier this month Spain reported the discovery of its first case of H5N1 in a wild bird.

Mr Garnier said: "We have used this special adjuvant and now we are able to demonstrate very significant and totally satisfactory efficacy and safety with a dose that is only 3.8 microgrammes.

"The meaning of this is that we are going to be in a position, starting later this year, to produce hundreds of millions of doses of an effective pandemic vaccine, so this is a big breakthrough."