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With all the buzz about highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI), we thought it would be useful to review this chapter in veterinary vaccine history. It turns out that Asian countries have deployed vaccines since 1995, and China started vaccinating poultry in 2004. In the same year, the US had its first outbreak of H5N2 avian influenza in over twenty years.

“On 17 February 2004, the state of Texas reported the detection of a type A influenza virus from chickens. The mild clinical signs observed in the affected flock were consistent with an infection caused by a low pathogenicity AIV. However, the presence of multiple basic amino acids at the HA cleavage site, which was identical to the amino acid sequence in the highly pathogenic A/chicken/Scotland/59 (H5N1) virus, required that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories report that the A/chicken/Texas/298313/04 (TX/04) (H5N2) isolate was classified as a highly pathogenic AIV on 23 February 2004. However, on 1 March 2004, National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced the results of the chicken pathogenicity test that showed the virus as being avirulent for chickens; the chickens remained healthy throughout the 10-day observation period.”

From 2003-2005, wild birds spread the HPAI H5N1 virus to poultry in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, and the Spike protein or hemagglutinin on the viral surface diversified into numerous clades (related groups), and viruses reassorted into multiple genetic lineages (genotypes) that were detected around the world. It was quickly determined that this practice was causing worsened viral spread, as published by Jane Parry.

Guyonnet et al. published a review in 2020, which we found very helpful. Here are some key excerpts:

The antigenic variation of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) surface glycoproteins occurs at a high frequency through minor “drift” changes and may be associated with the immune pressure exerted by the vaccination of birds…[avian influenza (AI)] during the period January 2013–February 2019 resulted in the loss of approximately 128 million birds, with more than half (57.6%) of the reported losses in Asia, followed by the Americas (22.1%) and Europe (13.4%). Poultry AI vaccines used in the field are based on five technologies:

1) wild-type or reverse genetics whole AI virus grown in embryonated chicken eggs, then chemically inactivated and adjuvanted; 2) HA antigen or virus-like particles produced in insect cells by a genetically engineered baculovirus; 3) HA DNA vaccine adjuvanted; 4) recombinant technologies utilizing live virus vectors to express AI virus HA and in some cases NA gene inserts (recombinant Herpes turkey virus (rHVT-AIV), recombinant Newcastle disease virus (rNDV-AIV) and recombinant Fowl pox virus (rFPV-AIV)) and, 5) defective-replicating alphavirus (defective Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus with H5 AI virus gene insert…Vaccine database from The Center for Food Security and Public Health, Iowa State University showed that of 43 manufacturers listing vaccines for the control of Avian Influenza, 31 (72%) are currently manufacturing vaccines combining AI with other antigens (CFSPH, 2018).

These manufacturers are based in 11 different countries on five continents, but the majority of them (71%) are located in Asia (22 of the 31), where AI vaccination has been practiced since 1995. Manufacturers located in Europe and North America are producing vaccines mostly for export and for the setting up of emergency stocks. According to the OIE website (OIE, 2019), the countries with official AI vaccination programs are Mexico, Egypt, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. China also has an official AI vaccination. Vaccination is also allowed in Bangladesh, where import permits are delivered to the private sector and killed AI vaccines are imported (no combination vaccines used). Vietnam, Egypt, and Indonesia have transitioned from mass vaccination to targeted vaccination ( OFFLU, 2013). The cost of AI vaccination is often shared between governments and the private sector.

So, it has been “game-on” for mass vaccination (traditional and genetic) of poultry around the world over the last 20 years. Otherwise, flock outbreaks were managed with culling supported by government subsidies. Among the big poultry producers, there appears to be no attempt to allow natural immunity from infection to settle in because the bird mortality rate is high, either due to the infection or intentional culling.

There may have been an artificial introduction of H5N1 Bird Flu into farming operations and the food supply. France was the first European country to introduce it on October 1, 2023, since the new EU legal norm came into force. The vaccination is controversial because it does not prevent the virus from multiplying 100 percent. Anyone who imports vaccinated chickens cannot be sure that they are not also importing the virus unnoticed. At least this risk exists, and for precisely these reasons, the USA and Japan immediately stopped imports of ducks from France on October 2, 2023. France conducted a mass vaccination campaign in poultry against H5N1 Bird Flu with Boehringer vaccines back in late 2023, prompting the USDA APHIS to ban the import of all poultry vaccinated against H5N1 due to shedding concerns and generation of new variants.

In January of 2024, an H5N1 outbreak occurred at a fully vaccinated duck farm in France shortly after the mandatory duck vaccination campaign. A new study by Li et al. has demonstrated that poultry vaccination against H5N1 avian influenza results in faster evolution, which can lead to more resistant strains. There appears to be no way of “getting ahead” of avian influenza with vaccination and the goal of extermination of the virus is foolhardy, expensive, and potentially dangerous.

The caveats of using non-sterilizing vaccines for chickens have long been understood with respect to Marek’s Disease. Read et al. concluded that poultry vaccination backfired and created more fit strains of the virus that are more likely to survive and infect more birds. “Here we show experimentally that immunization of chickens against Marek’s disease virus enhances the fitness of more virulent strains, making it possible for hyper-pathogenic strains to transmit.” The World Health Organization’s timeline of avian influenza serves as prima facie evidence that the practice of poultry vaccination has made the bird flu problem much worse than it ever would have been if nature was left alone. To our knowledge, there is no vaccination of poultry in the US and Canada.

In this issue of the Report, we focus on avian influenza, among other issues of the week, starting out with Dr McCullough hosted by Emerald Robinson, then an exclusive conversation between best-selling author and historian John Leake and Dr. McCullough.

Let’s get real. Let’s get loud on America Out Loud Talk Radio. This is the McCullough Report!

The McCullough Report: Sat | Sun 2 PM ET – Internationally recognized Dr. Peter A. McCullough, known for his iconic views on the state of medical truth in America and around the globe, pierces through the thin veil of mainstream media stories that skirt the significant issues and provide no tractable basis for durable insight. Listen on iHeart Radio, our world-class media player, or our free apps on AppleAndroid, or AlexaEach episode goes to major podcast networks early in the week and can be heard on-demand anywhere in the world.

Parry J. Vaccinating poultry against avian flu is contributing to spread. BMJ. 2005 Nov 26;331(7527):1223. doi: 10.1136/bmj.331.7527.1223. PMID: 16308364; PMCID: PMC1289310.

Guyonnet V, Peters AR. Are current avian influenza vaccines a solution for smallholder poultry farmers? Gates Open Res. 2020 Aug 26;4:122. doi: 10.12688/gatesopenres.13171.1. PMID: 33145481; PMCID: PMC7578560.

Association of poultry vaccination with the interspecies transmission and molecular evolution of H5 subtype avian influenza virus Bingying Li, Jayna Raghwani, Sarah C. Hill, Sarah François, Noémie Lefrancq, Yilin Liang, Zengmiao Wang, Lu Dong, Phillipe Lemey, Oliver G. Pybus, Huaiyu Tian bioRxiv 2023.12.20.572711; doi:

ANDREA PRINZI, PH.D., MPH, SM(ASCP) RODNEY ROHDE, PH.D., SM(ASCP), SVCM, MBCM, FACSC, Avian Influenza: Past, Present, Future July 5, 2022

Read AF, Baigent SJ, Powers C, Kgosana LB, Blackwell L, Smith LP, Kennedy DA, Walkden-Brown SW, Nair VK. Imperfect Vaccination Can Enhance the Transmission of Highly Virulent Pathogens. PLoS Biol. 2015 Jul 27;13(7):e1002198. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002198. PMID: 26214839; PMCID: PMC4516275.


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