USDA issues conditional license for avian flu vaccine

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a conditional license to Harrisvaccines for the use of the company's avian influenza vaccine.

The license was issued to combat an outbreak of the disease among chickens and turkeys that began this spring, leading Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to issue a state of emergency in May. The Ames Tribune reports that approximately 50 million chickens and turkeys have died in the outbreak.

"If the USDA decides to order a stockpile or allow the vaccine to be used in an outbreak situation, we're ready to basically turn on production and we can start providing millions of doses almost immediately," Harrisvaccines Vice President Joel Harris said. "There was 95 percent survival in the vaccinated group and zero percent in the unvaccinated. Those again are experiments and there's no vaccine that is 100 percent, but you can see that that is a very promising figure."

The vaccine, RNA, is still pending full approval from the USDA and is not to be sold in the U.S. As a result if this outbreak, the USDA issued an order of solicitation to support the stockpiling of 500 million doses of a vaccine. To receive this kind of license, a candidate must provide evidence of its efficacy and safety. 

A contract has yet to be announced, but despite this Harrisvaccines reports the issuance of the conditional license is an indication of their candidate's standing among other candidates. 

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