2005-10-31 /central news agency /
Two problems need to be addressed urgently in Taiwan's fight against avian flu, Dr. Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), chief of the Genomics Research Center under Academia Sinica (中央研究院) said yesterday.
The first problem is to stop contacts between poultry and people; the second is to locate drug companies or laboratories which meet the criteria of Good Manufacturing Practice to produce vaccine against avian flu, Wong said in interview with CNA, yesterday.
The current human avian flu cases reported in some Asian countries were caused by close contact between humans and poultry infected with the disease.
There is risk that the avian flu virus, H5N1, could mutate once entering into the body of human beings to allow human-to-human infection, Wong said.
The first line of defense in the battle against the flu is to prevent contacts between poultry and people, thereby denying the virus the chance to jump from birds to humans, Wong said.
The second problem is to manufacture vaccine against the disease in addition to stockpiling drugs for avian flu such as Tamiflu and Relenza.
Wong said Taiwan is technically capable of manufacturing vaccine but unfortunately it does not have pharmaceutical companies which meet GMP standards.
Only vaccine produced by GMP-accredited pharmaceutical companies can be used on humans, Wong said, adding that a simple way to solve this problem would be to help private pharmaceutical companies or the government's medical research institutes to upgrade their equipment and manufacturing practices to meet the GMP criteria.
Noting that the technology for producing vaccine is already in place, Wong said that the country needed to acquire proper production facilities, rather than research the way to produce vaccine from scratch.