posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 02:52 AM
Australian Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has stated that the Australian Government is considering vaccinating the entire population of 20
million people in the event that human trials of a vaccine are successful and in the event that a human-to-human mutation of the virus takes place.
Mr Abbott stated that the Australian Government was working closely with pharmaceutical company CSL to develop a human vaccine for the deadly H5N1
strain of the virus, commonly referred to as bird flu. Mr Abbott indicated that, in the event the vaccine proves successful, the Government would
consider mass manufacturing the vaccine and vaccinating the entire population of Australia:
If the live trials currently taking place look promising … we will consider whether we need to build up a supply of this drug, such that if
necessary we can vaccinate the whole population.
Health officials have estimated that a pandemic of the virus within Australia could claim as many as 13 000 deaths, with another 58 000 hospitalised.
Trials of the drug are expected to be completed before the end of the year. Prime Minister John Howard stated that he was confident in the Australian
Government's ability to protect its citizens, saying
We are working in collaboration with others on a vaccine and we've got a big investment in anti-virals and I can assure the Australian public that
everything that can be done will be done to protect all Australians.
However, Opposition Health spokeswoman Julia Gillard refutes the Government's claims, saying that the vaccine may only be effective against current
strains of the virus, which may mutate and render the vaccine ineffective.
Is such a move feasible? If this new vaccine proves effective, how long would it take to mass produce enough quantities to vaccinate every Australian
citizen? This is a bold statement for the Government to make - are they simply attempting to calm people's fears? If the vaccine does prove
effective, surely the Government would have a responsibility to distribute it to neighbouring countries for production for their own peoples as well.
Bird flu is just beginning to make the news here in Australia. My question is - what does this statement by the Government indicate? Just how
concerned are they about the possibility of a pandemic in Australia and do they truly have the resources and abilities to counter one should it
Let me know what you think.
ABC News Online
ABC Asia-Pacific News
[edit on 18/10/05 by Jeremiah25]