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WHO welcomes pandemic vaccine donations to developing world

Published on 21/09/09 at 03:34pm

The World Health Organisation has applauded donations of H1N1 vaccine made by the US, Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK.

Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said: "The announcement demonstrates the commitment of these countries to fairness in sharing of scarce resources as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic continues to evolve."

The donated resource will be dispensed to developing countries by the WHO, which aims to ensure the vaccines go where they are most needed, as the pandemic continues through into the New Year.

However, Chan also highlighted that current supplies of pandemic vaccine are inadequate for a world population in which virtually everyone is susceptible to infection by a new and readily contagious virus.

She said: "Given that current demand outstrips supply, these donations, together with the doses pledged by manufacturers, will help increase supplies of pandemic vaccines to populations that would otherwise not have access."

Supply shortage has been a major concern for manufacturers and governments around the world, along with the speed at which the vaccines must be produced.

It means national immunisation programmes must be done in waves, vaccinating the most vulnerable of the population first.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said production of H1N1 vaccine over the next year would be "substantially less" than the 4.9 billion doses previously forecast.

He based the estimation on clinical test results from some 25 companies, and said weekly production of the new vaccine will be less than 94 million doses.

However, more positively it seems that one dose of the vaccine should provide adequate protection from the virus, when it was previously thought two would be needed.


French company Sanofi-Pasteur is on track to deliver its H1N1 flu vaccine over the next two months, chief executive Chris Viehbacher told Le Figaro newspaper.

He said the first doses of its vaccine would be delivered to the US by mid-October, and he hoped the vaccine would also be available in France by the end of November.

Sanofi, which has the largest vaccine manufacturing capacity of all the companies making H1N1 vaccines, could in theory make 800 million doses of its H1N1 flu vaccine per year.

However, unlike GSK and Novartis, Sanofi does not have adjuvant technology, which boosts the potency of antigen, meaning the same volume of vaccine can be split into more doses.


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