No announcement yet.

Influenza A(H1N1): Warning over shortage of H1N1 vaccine

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Influenza A(H1N1): Warning over shortage of H1N1 vaccine


    WHO: More than one billion doses snapped up by several countries.

    PARIS: Northern hemisphere countries have so far ordered more than one billion doses of influenza A (H1N1) vaccine, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday, sparking warnings over shortages.

    Some countries - notably Greece, the Netherlands, Canada and Israel - have ordered enough double doses to inoculate their entire populations.

    Others, such as Germany, the United States, Britain and France, have put in orders tthat would cover between 30 and 78 per cent of their people.
    <TABLE class=pix cellSpacing=3 cellPadding=0 align=left></TABLE><TABLE class=pix cellSpacing=3 cellPadding=0 align=right></TABLE>

    "Pandemic vaccine orders put in by northern hemisphere countries stand at more than one billion," WHO spokesman Melinda Henry said.

    "In the early days, there will be a very limited supply of vaccine. There won't be sufficient supply to vaccinate whole populations, or even huge proportions of populations," Henry said by phone.

    Intense demand, coupled with production delays, could cause shortages, forcing governments that are preparing for a second, possibly more deadly, wave of flu to make hard choices about who to vaccinate first.

    Last month, WHO said the 25 drug companies which had announced their intention to make vaccines could crank out up to 94 million doses per week starting in mid-October.

    The global health body revised these numbers sharply downward when the top half-dozen vaccine makers -- accounting for 85 per cent of global production -- reported that the influenza A (H1N1) strains with which they were working with did not reproduce as quickly as expected.

    "The current vaccine strain can only yield 25 to 50 per cent of the original estimate, as low as 23 million doses per week," said Henry.

    Clinical tests have not yet confirmed whether new strains under development will produce higher yields, and initial results for at least one, reviewed by WHO on Tuesday, were not encouraging.

    There remained a big question mark, Henry said, as to whether one or two doses were needed for it to be effective.

    A Chinese drug company, Sinovac Biotech, announced that it had completed clinical trials showing that its new vaccine "induces good immunogenicity after one dose".

    But many experts have said that double doses will be needed because most people had no immunity to the so-called "novel" H1N1 virus.

    <CENTER><TABLE class=pix2 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0></TABLE></CENTER>A shortfall would essentially oblige national health authorities to ration the vaccine.

    US health officials said they expected a large shortfall in H1N1 vaccines, with only 45 million doses due to be ready for the start of a vaccination programme in mid-October.

    Historically, during seasonal flu epidemics, priority has gone to the elderly and those with chronic diseases, such as asthma.

    "But we know from our research that it is actually younger populations which are more affected during pandemics," Mark Miller, an epidemiologist at the Fogarty International Centre of the US National Institutes of Health. said. -- AFP