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Volume 932: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research is being carried out with a view to developing an effective vaccine against rabies; and if she will make a statement.

Work on developing improved vaccines for rabies has been done in the United States and in France, and since 1973 the Medical Research Council has been testing the newly developed French vaccine, prepared by the Mérieux Laboratories, for its protective effect against rabies in man. The Council's trials, involving about 400 people, have shown the vaccine to be superior to those currently in use. It produces an increased antibody response after fewer doses, it is effective in more people, its administration is painless and side effects are minimal.The new vaccine has been licensed for use in this country as a preventive measure in people at special risk and the Council is currently undertaking experiments designed to show whether it will also work well in people who have already been bitten by a rabid animal.Promising research is in progress at the Animal Virus Research Institute (AVRI), grantaided by the Agricultural Research Council, on an anti-rabies vaccine for use on animals. Most of the work on improved anti-rabies vaccines for animals is taking place in countries where an endemic problem exists such as France, Germany and the United States.