The European Commission approved the first prepandemic avian influenza vaccine for use in the European Union, according to an announcement last month by the vaccine's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline.
A prepandemic vaccine is produced in advance of a pandemic (based on the avian H5N1 strains circulating at that time) to provide health authorities with the potential to protect the population before or at the onset of an outbreak. In contrast, a conventional pandemic vaccine is based on the specific pandemic influenza strain, but because it takes 4 to 6 months to produce, it is not likely to be available to many individuals who become ill early in the pandemic.
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