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  • China to lead search for SARS vaccine

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[BEIJING] China could start human tests of a potential vaccine against the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) by the end of December, according to an official from the State Food and Drug Administration.

Yin Hongzhang, head of the agency's biological product section, says that tests in monkeys suggest that the vaccine can prevent infection in animals exposed to the virus, and has no serious side effects.

The company that has developed the vaccine, Beijing Kexing Bio-product Co., has submitted an application to carry out clinical tests on humans to the agency, which has promised to process the request as soon as possible.

Sources close to the agency say the human tests will be conducted using healthy volunteers in Beijing and Guangzhou in South China, where many SARS cases occurred during this year’s outbreak.

According to one Beijing-based SARS expert, the inactivated SARS vaccine will be injected into human volunteers to see whether it leads to the creation of antibodies against the disease.

About 1,500 volunteers are needed for the trial, which will last two years. The volunteers will be selected from different age groups, but should mostly be young people and have no history of SARS, say experts.

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