Influenza global vaccine stockpile progress

June 14, 2007

WHO is working with vaccine manufacturers to move ahead on plans to create a global stockpile of vaccine for the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

WHO is working with vaccine manufacturers to move ahead on plans to create a global stockpile of vaccine for the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The announcement follows a request by the World Health Assembly in May.

GSK has already announced that it will contribute. Other companies, such as Omninvest of Hungary, Baxter and Sanofi Pasteur have also indicated their willingness to make available some of their H5N1 vaccine. GSK is to donate 50 million doses of the vaccine over a three-year period, which will provide enough doses for 25 million people. The company has also stated its intention to provide additional doses at preferential prices to WHO for vaccine-eligible countries, of which there are 73.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, described the initiative as, "another significant step towards creating a global resource to help the world and especially to help developing countries in case of a major outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza."

WHO has conceded that further work is needed on detailed operational planning for the stockpile, including how and under which conditions it will be deployed, as well as regulatory aspects of the vaccine. Alongside the development of a stockpile of the vaccine, WHO is taking other preparatory measures for a potential influenza pandemic. This includes rapid containment plans to stop a pandemic using public health measures and antivirals assistance to countries to increase vaccine production capacity, including research and promoting the transfer of technology to developing countries.

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