Thai drug maker guarantees vaccine safety amid A/H1N1 flu outbreak in Asia-Pacific region

As the A/H1N1 flu continued to plague the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand's state-run drug manufacturer guaranteed the safety of its vaccine for A/H1N1 flu, amid growing concerns there would be limited time to test it.

Bangkok Post online Friday quoted Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) chairman Vichai Chokewiwat as saying that the nasal-spray vaccine against the new flu virus would meet global standards with the close supervision of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO-sponsored production of the vaccine will begin next month after the GPO's receipt of the seed virus and 350 eggs from Germany to grow the vaccine.

"If things go as planned, we will have the Thai-made spray vaccine by the end of this year," he said, adding that Bangkok will sell 10 percent of the total production of 10 million doses to the WHO at a low price.

Vichai made the assurance amid growing concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine due to its rushed production.

According to Vichai, the vaccine development team plans to conduct trials on 430 volunteers of different age groups.

The clinical test on humans, which takes 120 days, will be closely supervised by the Public Health Ministry's Ethical Review Committee for Research in Human Subjects.

The newly made vaccines will also be submitted for the Food and Drugs Administration's approval before being introduced to the public.

The government will provide the vaccine to about five million people for free.

In Hong Kong SAR, 88 new cases of influenza A/H1N1 were confirmed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,640 in the city.

The new cases involve 43 males and 45 females, aged between 5 and 64 years, said the department. The newly confirmed cases included an outbreak of six people from a residential workshop for the physically and mentally disabled in Eastern District, including four workshop attendees, two residents and a staff member.

The neighboring Macao SAR also reported eight new cases Friday, bringing the total number of such cases to 102, passing the 100 threshold.

Some 20 patients who tested positive for the A/H1N1 flu virus were still receiving medical treatments at local hospitals, while 80 patients have recovered and have been discharged from the hospitals.

Myanmar's flu tally rose to four when a 22-year-old woman has been confirmed with the infection, the official newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported Friday.

The authorities continue to take preventive measures against the possible spread of the global human flu pandemic, advising all private clinics in the country to report or transfer all flu-suspected patients, who returned from abroad, to local state-run hospitals or health departments for increased surveillance.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Health confirmed 18 more influenza A/H1N1 cases, bringing the country's tally to 338.

The ministry said there is a high possibility of the spread of flu A/H1N1 virus in schools and communities in the coming time. Therefore, it urged people coming to Vietnam from affected areas to observe self-quarantine and limit their contacts with other people within seven days from the time of entering the country.

Cambodia confirmed new flu cases on foreign tourists Friday.

A four-member American family (a man and three women) were confirmed the positive test of A /H1N1 flu in Cambodia.

A 22 year-old Irish man was also confirmed positive in the test of A/H1N1 virus in Cambodia, a Cambodian health official said late Friday.

"We always found the most case on the foreign travelers into the country, and we are still investigating the case for local people because foreign travelers walked many places in the country," he said. "They have rights to walk anywhere they like but when they were confirmed the positive test of the flu. They need to be treated," he stressed.

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