The move by U.S. health officials to start makinga vaccine against the new strain of bird flu is a good idea, regardless of whether the virus ultimately changes, as flu viruses often do, experts say.
On Thursday (April 4), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it had begun work on a vaccine against H7N9, a new bird-flu virus causing illness in China. So far, health officials have reported that 16 people have become sick with the virus, six of whom died. Currently, the virus does not appear to spread between people.
The CDC plans to "build" the virus to use it in its vaccine, rather than wait for a sample to ship from China, the New York Times reported. Using the H7N9 genetic sequence as a blueprint, CDC researchers will synthesize genes for part of the virus and attach them to the "backbone" of another virus known to grow well in labs, the Times said. Making the vaccine is just a precaution — health officials aren't sure yet if they'll need to use it.
"I think it’s a good idea to start with anything we can," said Dr. Arnold Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He noted that it could take at least a month to make even a provisional vaccine, and six months to manufacture one that can be used on a wider scale.
Even if the H7N9 virus changes during the time it takes to make a vaccine — for instance, the virus could mutate so that it's able to spread between people — having a vaccine will still be an advantage.
"Protection, even if it’s partial protection, is better than no protection," Monto said.
source - http://www.livescience.com/28501-bird-flu-vaccine-h7n9.html