UCL News


Letter: How we can keep the world safe from avian influenza

8 February 2007

Mike Davis's warning on bird flu (Comment, February 7) is timely.

In particular he is right about the lack of effort to develop a "world vaccine".

As things stand we have a capacity to produce vaccine for only 9% of the global population at best and more probably for 5%. This would only be available from six months after the pandemic began and so-called "jet spread" would probably bring the disease to the UK in less than a month. New vaccine approaches which could quickly be approvable by the regulators involve a live attenuated form of the virus or a pure protein which matches a key one on the surface of the virus. These could both be produced in existing facilities and be available within weeks of the beginning of a pandemic. For these vaccines to become available requires concerted action, especially between the US and European governments.

Professor Peter Dunnill (UCL Biochemical Engineering), 'The Guardian'