WHO Urges Immediate Action to Close Vaccine Supply Gap

November 9, 2006
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Geneva, Switzerland (Oct. 23)-Aiming to increase capacity for producing influenza pandemic vaccines, the World Health Organization has identified strategies and practical solutions for reducing the anticipated gap in the global vaccine supply.

Geneva, Switzerland (Oct. 23)-Aiming to increase capacity for  producing influenza pandemic vaccines, the World Health Organization (www.who.int) has identified strategies and practical solutions for reducing the anticipated gap in the global vaccine supply. A result of the organization’s consultation with more than 120 scientists from national immunization programs, regulatory agencies, and vaccine manufacturers worldwide, The Global Pandemic Influenza Action Plan to Increase Vaccine Supply calls for immediate action details short-, mid-, and long-term approaches to expand “surge capacity” and boost production before and during a possible influenza pandemic.

The plan identifies three main approaches: an increase in seasonal vaccine use, an increase in production capacity, and an increase in research and development. According to the document, “Should there be a pandemic that appears to cause high mortality, there will probably be calls to vaccinate the global population-currently estimated to be 6.7 billion.” Current capacity is estimated at 350 million doses with 2008-2009 projections not exceeding 2.34 billion doses.

One short-term solution would be to provide surge capacity by leveraging antigen-sparing methods. Among the most promising strategies are increasing production yields, increasing the construction of production plants in both developing and industrialized countries, increasing the production of live attenuated influenza vaccines, and further development of adjuvanted vaccines with adjuvants widely used in licensed vaccines.

On Oct. 23, the US government pledged to support WHO’s influenza vaccine development and manufacturing infrastructure with a $10 million contribution.