Taipei, May 24 (CNA) Taiwan has received a shipment of candidate vaccine viruses from the United States to develop a vaccine against human infections of H7N9 avian influenza, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
The candidate viruses, provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were delivered to Taiwan May 18, Deputy Health Minister Lin Tzou-yien.
The CDC officially notified Taiwan May 23 that the candidate viruses had passed biological safety tests and could be handled in a Biosafety Level-2 facility, Lin said.
In addition, Japan has also agreed to provide Taiwan with H7N9 candidate viruses, according to the DOH.
Lin said the DOH is currently accepting subsidy applications from academic, research and medical institutions that are interested in working to develop an H7N9 vaccine using the candidate viruses.
The development effort is expected to be completed within a year, after which production of the vaccine could begin, he said.
Regarding the wild-type H7N9 virus provided by China to Taiwan last month, Lin said it will be used for purposes such as improving test reagents and producing diagnostic test kits.
Since an H7N9 outbreak was first reported in China in late March, the deadly virus has infected at least 130 people on the mainland, killing 36 of them, according to the latest data compiled by Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control.
Taiwan has so far only reported a single case of H7N9 infection, which was imported.
The patient, who fell severely ill soon after he returned from China April 9, has recovered after 35 days of hospitalization and was discharged Friday.
(By Chen Ching-fang and Y.F. Low)ENDITEM /pc