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Chiron Wins Expansion for Bird-Flu Vaccine

August 18, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Chiron Corp. on Tuesday won an expansion of its work for the U.S. government making a vaccine to protect people against potentially lethal bird-flu viruses.

The contract with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases calls for as many as 40,000 doses of a vaccine to prevent the H9N2 bird-flu strain, the Emeryville, Calif.-based company said.

Chiron, the world's second-largest maker of influenza vaccine, began work with the French company Aventis in May on an institute contract to make shots against the H5N1 bird-flu strain.

Bird flu may cause a global outbreak if strains mutate to spread among people, because humans have little immunity to the virus, Chiron said. Vietnam's government reported last week that three people died from bird flu, and more than 100 million poultry have been killed in Asia in the last year to prevent the spread of the disease.

Chiron is not disclosing the financial terms of the contract, spokeswoman Alison Marquess said. Strasbourg-based Aventis, the world's biggest vaccine maker, and Chiron make most of the flu vaccine for the U.S. market.

Shares of Chiron rose 13 cents to $46.02 on Nasdaq.

Chiron's vaccines unit, based in Oxford, England, will produce the H9N2 vaccine at plants in Siena and Rosia, Italy.

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