Hendra vaccine developer surprised by lag in release

THE scientist responsible for developing the vaccine used to fight the deadly Hendra virus said he was surprised it had only been made available in Australia over the past year.

Over the past 18 months there have been several Hendra virus outbreaks across the state especially throughout south-east Queensland.

Professor Christopher Broder said in Brisbane (Oct 11) the vaccine had been available since 2000.

"Our lab was the first one outside Australia to start working on the virus," he said.

"Initially my interest was it was a new and emerging virus.

"It is an extremely interesting and complexed virus."

Professor Broder said the vaccine he developed offered complete protection against the deadly virus.

"We have proven the vaccine works not only in horses, but in three other animals as well," he said.

"It has been the fastest animal vaccine that has gone from early production into field use.

"We did that in two years where normally it would take about 10 years."

Professor Broder said the vaccine, which was made available in Australia in November last year, had started showing results.

"No one really knows why we had the outbreaks over the past year," he said.

"A lot more research needs to be done in that aspect.

"We will not know for about two years the full effects the vaccine has had in Australia.

"Every horse that has received the vaccine has been entered into a national database."

Professor Broder was in Australia to speak with scientists and to brief key industry representatives about the deadly Hendra visus.