NIAID announces launch of phase 2 trials for updated H7N9 avian flu vaccine
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) last week announced the launch of two phase 2 clinical trials of a candidate H7N9 influenza vaccine, one to assess different dosages with or without an adjuvant and the second to look at the adjuvanted vaccine's performance alongside a quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccine.
The inactivated H7N9 vaccine was developed by Sanofi Pasteur with support from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. In a Mar 15 press release, NIAID, sponsor of the vaccine trials, said the vaccine has been updated to include an inactivated form of the H7N9 virus collected in 2017 to ensure that it protects against a new H7N9 strain circulating in China.
Anthony Fauci, MD, NIAID director, said in the statement, "As we experience one of the worst seasonal influenza epidemics in recent years here in the United States, we also must maintain a scientific focus on novel influenza viruses, such as H7N9, that have the potential to cause a pandemic." He added that the new studies will provide a more detailed picture of the vaccine's safety and ability to generate an immune response against current H7N9 strains.
One of the trials, led by a researcher from Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, will enroll up to 420 male and nonpregnant female participants ages 19 to 64 from sites in Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington. Volunteers will be divided into five groups, of which three will receive the adjuvanted vaccine at three different dosages and two will receive the unadjuvanted version at two different dosages. Both groups will be vaccinated at the first visit and again 21 days later.
The second trial, led by a researcher at the University of Maryland, will randomly sort up to 150 healthy adult volunteers into three groups, all of whom will receive the adjuvanted vaccine. Study sites are in Alabama, Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee.
The first group will get the initial H7N9 dose within 15 minutes of the quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccine, the second will receive the H7N9 vaccine about 3 weeks after the seasonal vaccine, and the third group will receive only the seasonal vaccine. Both of the H7N9 groups will receive a second dose 21 days later.
Mar 15 NIAID press release
Three H9N2 infections reported in China
China has reported three more H9N2 avian flu infections in humans, all of them mild and two of them in children, according to the latest update on zoonotic influenza from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The first illness occurred in a 9-year-old girl from Anhui province who got sick on Dec 29 and whose exposure source is unknown. The second child infected with the virus is a 3-year-old girl from Guangdong province whose symptoms began on Jan 21 after she had contact with live market poultry.
The third case involves a 51-year-old woman from Beijing who started having symptoms on Feb 13. The WHO said she had slaughtered domestic poultry before she became ill.
H9N2 is endemic in China's poultry, and sporadic infections in humans are typically mild, with the illness more common in children.
Mar 2 WHO flu at the human-animal interface report
USDA-Korea deal narrows restrictions for US high-path avian flu outbreaks
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced an agreement with South Korea's government that would limit trade restrictions to the state level rather than the country level in the wake of future highly pathogenic avian flu detections.
In a Mar 15 statement, the USDA said the step will prevent a repeat of trade actions taken in 2015 when South Korea banned all US poultry, poultry products, and eggs because of an avian flu detection. In 2015, highly pathogenic H5N2 struck poultry in several US states, especially in the Midwest.
Greg Ibach, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said in the statement, "The new science-based agreement will allow unaffected U.S. producers to keep poultry, poultry products and eggs going to South Korea."
In 2014—the last full year when no highly pathogenic avian flu restrictions were in place—South Korea imported $122 million worth of US poultry and poultry products, making it the 10th largest market for US poultry producers, the USDA said. South Korea lifted its most recent avian flu–related ban in August 2017, which followed a highly pathogenic outbreak in March 2017.
Mar 15 USDA press release