No Bird Flu Pandemic -- Yet
CDC 'Extremely Concerned,' but Killer Flu Still Not Spreading Among Humans
It's not yet clear whether these experimental vaccines are safe or whether they will elicit immune responses that protect against H5N1 flu viruses in humans. Should an H5N1 vaccine be safe and effective, there's still the issue of producing enough vaccine for U.S. and world demand. And, of course, vaccine makers will have to keep up with the notorious ability of flu viruses to change their genetic makeup.
The bird flu is, unfortunately, resistant to one kind of flu drug. It's sensitive to Tamiflu -- but supplies are short.
"Even in a scenario where we have a couple of months to plan for a pandemic, the answer is no, there are not enough antiviral drugs available for treatment or [prevention of infection] during a pandemic situation -- even in the U.S., let alone the rest of the world," Uyeki says. "Other governments besides the U.S. are trying to stockpile it. Currently there is an insufficient supply. … What are needed are not only more availability and more production, but we need other kinds of antivirals as well."