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DoH advisors criticise swine flu vaccine purchase decision

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  • DoH advisors criticise swine flu vaccine purchase decision

    The decision to purchase enough swine flu vaccine to cover the entire UK population costing £239m was 'inappropriate' and could not have halted the initial spread, a DoH advisory panel has ruled.

    A strategy to vaccinate the whole country against pandemic flu ‘would not be appropriate’ because sufficient quantities of vaccine typically only become available late into, or even after, the main outbreak.

    The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) advised the government to consider limiting future advanced purchase agreements (APAs) for pandemic vaccine to only at-risk groups and school children.

    It comes as the government prepares to publish a new pandemic preparedness strategy later this year.

    The previous government was criticised for its decision to sign a contract for 90 million doses of swine flu vaccine in 2009 without the protection of a break clause.

    When the outbreak was found to be not as serious as ministers had feared, the DoH was left with 30 million excess doses of vaccine.

    This led to a loss of more than £200m on unused swine flu vaccine and antivirals in 2009/10, as GP revealed in September last year.

    An independent review of the UK response to the 2009 swine flu pandemic by Dame Deirdre Hine in July 2010 found it cost the country over £1.2bn.

    As the pandemic reached the UK, ministers opted to buy enough vaccine to cover 100% of the population. Dame Deirdre’s report found that some people involved in the decision believed lesser quantities would have sufficed.