Canada will not perform H7N9 vaccine studies

Canada announced on May 9 that it has no plans to ask its pandemic flu vaccine manufacturers to conduct test studies on their trial batches of H7N9 vaccines.

The H7N9 virus is a strain of avian flu that is responsible for over 31 deaths in China over the past month. There have been 130 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection in China, with the close contacts being closely monitored.

Canada plans to watch the results from several U.S. flu vaccine manufacturers, who have been asked by the U.S. government to perform studies. The Canadian government will wait and learn from the results.

"What we need to do in the international research-scientific community, the public health community is to complement each other," Dr. Frank Plummer, head of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, said. "If the U.S. is doing something, we don't need to do it necessarily."

In the past, the U.S. government has financed several small clinical trials that tested for other H7 viruses. The results have not been good and showed that the H7 strain of viruses are immunogenic.

"We're obviously monitoring the situation," Dr. John Spika, director general of the public health agency's centre for immunization and respiratory infectious diseases, said. "It may well be, if this strain continues to emerge, and based on the results coming out of the United States, that we may want to move in that direction. But not at this point."