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Korean Journal of Epidemiology 2006;28(1): 36-40.
Control of Avian Influenza: Calls for International Collaboration.
Baik Lin Seong, Eun Ju Jung
Yonsei University, Department of Biotechnology, Korea.blseong@yonsei.ac.kr
The 1918 "Spanish Flu", cause of the largest causality rate ever recorded in human history with 50 million deaths, is genetically related to the current H5N1 virus, suggesting the potential emergence of H5N1 influenza as the next pandemic wave. In the process of co-infection and genetic reassortment of human and H5N1 avian influenza, the H5N1 strain could acquire human viral gene(s) to ignite the human to human spread, as occurred in 1957 and 1976 pandemics. All countries are vulnerable to infection as no effective vaccine has yet been developed for avian influenza. Once developed into a pandemic, the socio-economic impact of avian influenza would be enormous. In response to this danger, Korea recently proposed to establish an international consortium, the Pandemic Influenza Consortium, Korea (PICK), to emphasize close collaboration, especially among Pacific Rim countries. PICK proposes to support the following three areas: 1) international efforts in the implementation of national and regional preparedness plans through the development of epidemiological, microbiological and clinical tools and mechanisms for early detection of pandemic influenza epidemics, 2) the development and clinical evaluation of pandemic influenza candidate vaccine, and 3) the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to ensure the capacity to produce, the availability of supply, and the rational distribution of pandemic influenza vaccines to countries suffering from or at high risk of experiencing outbreaks. Finally, the effort is expected to serve as a basis for initiating, establishing and strengthening the international infrastructure for investigation of the infection mechanism and devising prophylactic and therapeutic responses to various infectious diseases.
Keywords: H5N1 virus; Avian influenza; Vaccine; Pandemic; Infectious disease
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