WHO wants faster, more flu vaccine production

September 6, 2010 By MIN LEE , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- The vaccine used to contain the recent swine flu pandemic was effective, but health authorities will need to ramp up the speed and volume of production during the next global outbreak, a World Health Organization official said Monday.

The WHO declared last month that the swine flu pandemic that started in June 2009 was over, after it killed about 18,600 people worldwide, far less than the worse-case scenarios in which authorities said millions could die.

The widespread use of vaccines was critical in limiting the number of casualties, with studies showing they offered protection in up to 95 percent of cases, WHO official David Wood said at a news conference on the sidelines of an influenza conference in Hong Kong.

Some 350 million doses of the were administered worldwide, according to WHO figures.

"That gives us considerable hope for the future, for the future , that the technologies that we have to actually make the vaccines are" effective, said Wood, the quality and safety team co-ordinator for the WHO's immunization and vaccines department.

But while vaccines became available six months after the H1N1 behind the pandemic was identified in April 2009, that was still too late for some countries, he said. In the case of the U.S., vaccination started on Oct. 5, 2009 - weeks after a second wave of cases hit as schools resumed, U.S. flu expert Nancy Cox told reporters.

The WHO is studying ways to make vaccines more quickly, Wood said without offering specifics, adding that technological breakthroughs will also speed up the process.

"In the short term, we'll be able to make some gains of weeks that Nancy was talking about that can make all the difference. In the longer term, we may even have these new technologies that shorten our lag more significantly, so I'm quite optimistic," Wood said.

The WHO official also said the global healthy body is working on increasing global production capacity beyond the centers of Europe, America and China, targeting countries like India, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil and Mexico.

The WHO was accused by some of hyping the pandemic, prompting excessive buying of vaccines and antiviral drugs that enriched drug companies. Asked about such accusations, Wood said the organization only advised countries to vaccinate high-risk groups, like health care workers and pregnant women.

"I believe that the recommendations that came from the organization were proportionate to the risks that we had at the time," he said.

shares

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Opioid addiction treatment behind bars reduced post-incarceration overdose deaths in RI

February 14, 2018
A treatment program for opioid addiction launched by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was associated with a significant drop in post-incarceration drug overdose deaths and contributed to an overall drop in overdose ...

Heroin vaccine blocks lethal overdose

February 14, 2018
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major milestone toward designing a safe and effective vaccine to both treat heroin addiction and block lethal overdose of the drug. Their research, published ...

Study shows NIH spent >$100 billion on basic science for new medicines

February 12, 2018
Federally funded research contributed to the science underlying all new medicines approved by the FDA over the past six years, according to a new study by Bentley University.

Opioid use increases risk of serious infections

February 12, 2018
Opioid users have a significantly increased risk of infections severe enough to require treatment at the hospital, such as pneumonia and meningitis, as compared to people who don't use opioids.

Placebo pills prescribed honestly help cancer survivors manage symptoms

February 9, 2018
Long after cancer treatment ends, many continue to deal with one particular symptom that refuses to go away: fatigue. In a new study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Harvard Medical School have ...

Multinational companies continue to produce unregulated antibiotics in India

February 5, 2018
Millions of unapproved antibiotics are being sold in India, according to a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Newcastle University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.