Russia starts bird flu vaccine tests

Russia began testing two new vaccines against bird flu on 120 volunteers in Moscow with results expected at the end of August, the head of the state-owned company behind the project said.

"At the end of August, we will announce the results," Anton Katlinsky, director of Microgen -- a biological products company set up in 2003, said at a news conference in Moscow.

During the two-stage testing period, volunteers will be monitored by the Flu Institute in Saint Petersburg and the Vaccine and Serums Institute in Moscow, Katlinsky said.

The vaccines contain a strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus from Vietnam, chosen according to guidelines from the World Health Organisation, officials said.

"The results of tests on animals inspire optimism," Katlinsky added.

More than 120 people have died of bird flu around the world since late 2003, the vast majority of them in Asia.