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Fed: Low risk of mad cow disease from vaccines - NHMRC

October 11, 2002 AAP Newsfeed by Jon Henley
[We also received European shipments of fetal calf serum contaminated vaccines in the United States--BSE coordinator]
The chance of catching the human form of mad cow disease through vaccines was extremely low, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) said today.

The human form of mad cow disease, or vCJD, has been linked to the consumption of contaminated beef in Britain but no cases have been reported in Australia. A committee of the NHMRC was established to review the relationship between vaccines originally derived from processes that used foetal calf serum from the UK and Europe, and the risk of the transmission of vCJD.

Committee chairman Graeme Ryan said the review had found the risk of any vaccines being contaminated with mad cow disease was extremely low.

"My committee is satisfied that the benefits of vaccines used in Australia to prevent diseases far outweigh any risks," Professor Ryan said.

"Australians are acutely aware of the benefits of immunisation, especially vaccines used to prevent potentially life-threatening diseases in children.

"Despite the obvious benefits of vaccines, my committee felt it was important to update Australia's risk assessment of vCJD based on the latest information."

Professor Ryan said the committee supported the policy of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which plans to source future vaccines from processes that do not use foetal calf serum.

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