EU Signs Contract for 665,000 Avian Influenza Vaccines

The European Union has taken a significant step in fighting against avian influenza by signing a contract to purchase up to 665,000 doses of a vaccine that prevents the transmission of the disease to humans. This decision comes after several cases were reported in the United States, Mexico, and Australia.

The European Emergency Response Authority (HERA), established during the Covid-19 pandemic, has signed a framework contract to acquire these doses over four years from the British laboratory Seqirus. This contract also includes an option for an additional 40 million doses.

Fifteen EU member states and the European Economic Area (EU plus Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) are participating in this joint purchase, including France and Finland. These doses will be targeted towards individuals most at risk of potential transmission of avian influenza from birds or animals, such as poultry farm workers and veterinarians.

The vaccine from Seqirus is currently the only one authorized in the EU for human influenza caused by H5 strains of avian influenza virus. Each participating state will be able to order vaccines based on their specific needs to prevent the spread or emergence of potential outbreaks.

Initial shipments are already being prepared for Finland, with additional shipments to other countries to follow. While cases of avian influenza virus “A H5N1” have been reported in the United States linked to an outbreak in cows, there have been no cases of human-to-human transmission. The World Health Organization has urged for the strengthening of the global H5N1 detection network, emphasizing its ability to infect a wide range of animal species.

In early June, the WHO reported the first human death from avian influenza related to another strain, H5N2, in Mexico on April 24, attributing the death to multiple factors.