Heads Up – HHS to Produce 4.8M Bird Flu Vaccines as 2 New Human Cases Identified

by John-Michael Dumais, Childrens Health Defense:

HHS is preparing 4.8 million H5N1 bird flu vaccine doses amid reports of two new human cases in Michigan and Australia. Meanwhile, the CDC this week urged health officials nationwide to ramp up flu surveillance.

Federal health officials are ramping up efforts to combat what they claim is the growing threat of H5N1 bird flu with plans to produce 4.8 million vaccine doses and increase influenza surveillance nationwide.

The move comes as two new human bird flu infection cases were identified — in Michigan and Australia — heightening concerns about the virus’s potential to spread among humans.

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The new vaccine, currently in bulk form, will be filled and finished in multidose vials by one of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) manufacturing partners without disrupting seasonal flu vaccine production, according to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell on Wednesday said that active discussions are underway across federal agencies about the key triggers for deploying the H5N1 vaccine doses.

Triggers could include evidence the virus is spreading to people not employed on farms, or between humans rather than solely from animals to humans, or that the virus is causing more severe illness in those infected.

O’Connell also said HHS is in talks with Pfizer and Moderna about developing mRNA-based bird flu vaccines.

Reports of new human bird flu cases and plans for increased vaccine production sparked a surge in the value of vaccine-focused biotech companies’ stock on Wednesday, including Moderna, BioNTech, CureVac and Novavax, according to The Financial Times.

New human cases in Michigan, Australia

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported that the H5 avian flu case in a dairy farm worker was identified through ongoing public health actions, which allowed farm workers to monitor and notify health officials if they developed symptoms, CIDRAP reported.

Reporting on only the second human case of bird flu infection this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the worker’s nasal swab tested negative for H5 influenza. But an eye swab tested positive, suggesting an eye infection similar to a previous case in Texas, reported in April.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s agriculture department reported another H5N1 avian flu outbreak in a dairy herd, bringing the total number of affected farms in the state to 19. The latest outbreak occurred in Gratiot County, where the virus was found at three other dairy farms earlier in the week.

On Tuesday, Australian health authorities reported the country’s first human case of H5N1. According to a report from the Victoria Department of Health, a child contracted the infection during a trip to India.

Although the report described the case as “severe,” it said the child had fully recovered. Contact tracing showed the infection did not spread to anyone else.

An outbreak of the H7 flu strain at a Victoria egg farm is not the same as the one fueling outbreaks in the U.S., according to Australian health officials. They noted that H5N1 was never detected in animals or people in Australia before this case.

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Originally Posted at https://www.sgtreport.com