Scientists at vaccine manufacturer Greffex say they have created the first comprehensive vaccine for H7N9 avian influenza, one month after the virus was characterised.

H7N9 avian influenza has infected 126 people in China and killed 24 over the past month.

The virus is transmitted by birds and can spread quickly as infected birds show no symptoms.

Keiji Fukuda Assistant Director-General for health security at the WHO characterized H7N9 as an "unusually dangerous virus for humans."

Using its Grevax technology, Greffex say they have developed a vaccine for the virus in around a month.

Greffex chief scientific officer Dr Uwe Staerz said; "Speed, as well as flexibility, is needed for vaccine design to combat emerged infectious threats. We had already shown with an Anthrax vaccine that we can create any vaccine within one month."

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By GlobalData

Greffex’s vaccine platform is purpose-built to integrate short development times with large payloads, carrying the H7N9 avian influenza hemagglutinin and neuramidase genes and high plasticity levels.

According to the company, its modules allow a flexible ‘plug-and-play’ design of vaccines for emerging infectious diseases.

The system was originally created for the H1N1 swine influenza, but the company has since developed a dengue vaccine, anthrax vaccine and an ebola vaccine.

Greffex president and chief executive officer John Price said the company had overcome "major production and manufacturing obstacles" to create the vaccines.

"We are working on a universal influenza vaccine – the ‘holy grail’ of vaccine science," Price added.

Image: Influenza A H7N9 as viewed through an electron microscope Photo: Courtesy of Cynthia S Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe.