Beijing fast-tracks Sinovac's approval for human trials Authorities are planning to recruit 100 volunteers for clinical trials of a pandemic flu vaccine developed by a mainland biotechnology company, according to state media. The China State Food and Drug Administration approved Sinovac Biotech, a company with close links to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, to start human clinical trials for a pandemic influenza vaccine. The administration fast-tracked the company's application, which was submitted on October 21, in one month 'in response to the severe nature a potential pandemic based on the avian virus', the company said on its website. It said the trials had been modified to consist of two phases instead of the original three. The company is planning to start the first phase - which will take about three months - as soon as possible. A Sinovac spokeswoman said yesterday that plans for trials were still being finalised and declined to give further details. But a report posted on Beijing portal qianlong .com quoted the company as saying the administration had approved a plan to have 100 volunteers participate in the first phase of the trials. The trials are expected to be conducted in Beijing, according to the report. Pre-clinical tests showed that the vaccine could safely induce an immune response in animals, the company said. It added that the clinical trials would help the company further examine the safety of the vaccine and its immune response in humans, and to establish the ideal dosage and immunisation schedule. The development of the vaccine was based on a virus strain distributed by the World Health Organisation to the main vaccine manufacturers. Although the virus that causes a pandemic flu may be different from the virus strain now being used for the production of the vaccine, the process would prepare a country to manufacture pandemic flu vaccines should an outbreak occur. Sinovac was previously given central government approval to conduct human trials of a vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome.