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Volunteers needed for flu jab tests

A pioneering new vaccine developed to prevent a predicted flu pandemic is to be tested on residents in Leicestershire.

Experts at Leicester hospitals are looking for volunteers to take part in a £1m, three-year research project to test the newly-developed drug.

Trials of the vaccine have shown it to be effective against so-called avian or bird flu, which experts predict could be responsible for a major flu outbreak.

Professor Karl Nicholson, consultant physician at Leicester hospitals and professor of infectious diseases at the University of Leicester, is leading the research.

He said: "It's been 40 years since the last pandemic in 1968 so we must be prepared. We don't know when or what sort of virus will cause it.

"We will be testing the vaccine by giving different amounts to different people to ascertain the optimum dose to make sure we can protect the population."

The work will help the Department of Health - and the rest of the world - to plan for the future."

He added: "People in Leicester have a unique advantage to access this vaccine and be protected against a pandemic if it occurs. It's estimated it will take six months to make a vaccine if a pandemic occurs - and the pandemic could come and go in that time."

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Leicester hospitals

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"There isn't enough information with regards to going along for this flu jab. Will it cover this years flu virus as I lost my mother in law to flu in 1968 aged 52. I am 62 and too young for a jab at the doctors." - Carol Williams, Mountsorrel