Kazakhstan develops swine flu vaccine

The Kazakh Minister of Education and Science announced on Dec. 7 that swine and bird flu vaccines developed in Kazakhstan have been sent to a WHO laboratory for testing.

Madi Asanov

2009-12-09

ASTANA ― Kazakh Minister of Education and Science Zhanseit Tuymebayev told journalists on Dec. 7 that swine and bird flu vaccines developed in Kazakhstan had been sent to a World Health Organisation (WHO) laboratory for testing.

He said “Kazakh vaccines will undergo final clinical trials at a WHO flu reference laboratory centre of the Flu Research Institute at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in St. Petersburg.”

Kazakhstan’s vaccine against the H1N1 virus (swine flu) is called Refluvac, while its vaccine against the H5N1 virus (bird flu) is known as Kfzfluvac.

“Kazakhstan now has its own technologies and vaccines, and will therefore be able to deal with the threat of swine and bird flu in time to protect the public,” Tuymebayev stated. If tests of the Kazakh vaccines prove that they are viable, their prices on the domestic market will be 40 to 50 percent lower than those of foreign drugs. Kazakhstan also plans to export its vaccines.

The director of the WHO National Flu Centre laboratory, Oleg Kiselev, said that testing the vaccines would take six weeks. All pre-clinical trials were carried out in Kazakhstan, at a cost of US$2.9 million, said the research centre’s director for bio-security issues, Professor Seidigapbar Mamadaliyev.

Speaking on television at the beginning of December, Kazakh Deputy Health Minister Tamara Voshchenkova once again denied rumours that authorities were concealing the true extent of the swine flu epidemic in Kazakhstan. These rumours arose due to the deaths over the past few weeks of 11 people supposedly diagnosed with pneumonia.

Voshchenkova said that the ministry of health was not keeping information from the public. “We are very actively tracking H1N1 infections,” she said, adding that “apart from the 18 known cases, we have not detected this illness in anyone else in this country.”

According to her, seasonal flu is the biggest problem currently facing Kazakhstan. She added, however, that catching acute respiratory infections or the seasonal flu might help people acquire immunity against the H1N1 virus.

[KT.kz, KazTAG.kz, Inform.kz. MON.kz]

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