Federal health officials announced plans Monday for a second vaccine to protect people from bird flu because the virus that is spreading among birds in Asia and Europe has changed significantly in the past year.
The government has several million doses of an earlier bird flu vaccine, but it was based on a sample of virus taken from Vietnam in 2004. The germ is believed to have mutated enough since then that the form now circulating in Africa and Europe may be different, health officials said.
Source. The story should make it clear that this is a race in which we will always be a step slow. For H5N1 to become a pandemic the virus has to mutate a bit more. If a pandemic does hit we may finally get the relevant virus sample, but it will take a long time to develop a new vaccine and even longer to mass produce it with the current technology.
Revere offers a five minute crash course on what you need to know about avian flu, correctly emphasizing that need to stop thinking we can somehow stop a pandemic in its tracks. Good planning, not vaccine stockpiles, will be key. Tyler made the same argument in November.