EC to pump millions more into avian flu research projects

The European Commission has announced €28.3m will be spent on 17 research projects into avian and pandemic influenza.

The new projects cover human and animal health, and address research needs identified by organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The €28.3m allocated to these projects comes in addition to €21m already allocated.

Janez Potocnik, European science and research commissioner said: "It is important that the EU is able to target its research programme to meet new needs that arise. We have shown that we are able to do this. The involvement of so many international partners shows that Europe is leading the global fight against avian and pandemic flu."

The €28.3m is evenly divided between human and animal health projects. Researchers will examine how the flu virus works in humans and will carry out clinical research into vaccine development.

The projects addressing animal health will cover vaccines, better diagnosis and early warning systems, increased knowledge of the avian influenza virus itself, technology transfer to third countries and a network for monitoring migratory birds.

Nine of the research projects involve companies from countries such as Russia, China, Vietnam, Australia, the US, Canada and Croatia, several of which have been directly affected by recent outbreaks of avian influenza.