WASHINGTON – It’s better than nothing, federal health advisers said Tuesday in urging approval of the first bird flu vaccine as a stopgap against a potential pandemic until more effective vaccines can be developed.
The panel said in a 14-0 vote that the vaccine was effective, despite evidence it wouldn’t protect most people against the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. The panel then voted that the Sanofi Aventis SA vaccine was safe.
The recommendation now goes to the FDA, which isn’t required to follow the advice of its advisory committees but usually does.
In a clinical trial, the two-shot series appears to provide protection to just 45 percent of adults who received the highest dose.
An earlier analysis of the same study had suggested it prompted a protective immune response in 54 percent of patients, when measured 28 days after getting the second of two shots.