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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 08:42 GMT
Progress made on bird flu vaccine
Many experts think a new flu pandemic is inevitable
French drug company Sanofi Pasteur has reported an encouraging start in early clinical trials for a prototype bird flu vaccine.

It said it had seen a good response from the 300 volunteers trialling the vaccine, laying the basis for further trials and research.

Scientists worldwide are working on a vaccine for the H5N1 bird flu strain.

It is considered the strain most likely to mutate eventually into a deadly human flu that could sweep the world.

It is not possible to perfect a flu vaccine before a pandemic starts because the vaccine must exactly match the strain of influenza, which is not known until it appears.

Even so, Sanofi Pasteur - the vaccines arm of drugs giant Sanofi Aventis - hopes to develop a practical vaccine injection that could be available in large enough quantities to treat a worldwide bird flu outbreak.

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