Vaccination development work began in January, when butantan scientists began monitoring the spread of the bird flu virus around the world.
The Butantan Institute has begun developing a vaccine against avian influenza in humans. Tests are currently being conducted with vaccine strains provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the first trial batch is ready for preclinical testing. The goal is to prepare the country for possible epidemics, and to benefit from the experience gained in developing and distributing vaccines against COVID-19 in recent years.
The work of developing the immune system began in January, when butantan scientists began monitoring the spread of the bird flu virus around the world, learning from experience gained in fighting COVID-19. Butantan Institute director Esper Calas said, “We started work to find a model vaccine against avian influenza, in collaboration with many researchers from the institute. Butantan plays a role in qualifying itself strategically to meet future requirements.”
Butantan intends to develop a vaccine stockpile using three strains of avian influenza vaccine: Avian Influenza A/Anhui/1/2005 (H5N1); Avian influenza A / Astrakhan / 3212/2020 (H5N8); and avian influenza A / duck / Vietnam / NCVD-1584/2012 (H5N1). Strains were obtained in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the National Institute for Biological Control and Standards (NIBSC) in the United Kingdom, following WHO guidelines.
This strategic stockpile is necessary for Butantan to be able to contribute in the event of a disease pandemic. “We still don’t know when this great pandemic will happen, but it is inevitable, and we will need to prepare to respond. Avian influenza requires preventive options and effective ways to combat it,” stresses Esper Callas.
In order to speed up production, Butantan is using the same technology used to manufacture a seasonal influenza vaccine, which already supplies 80 million doses annually to the National Immunization Program (PNI), which is distributed by the Unified Health System (SUS).
The development of an avian influenza vaccine by the Butantan Institute represents an important step towards strengthening Brazil’s ability to face future pandemic threats and protect the health of the population.
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