Friday, September 18, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Donations to WHO for Low-Income Countries

The World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan reported today that the United States plans to donate 10 percent of its supply of pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine to the organization for use in low-income countries. The US has on order 195 million doses of the swine flu vaccine, which is due to start arriving early next month. The White House has not yet released any details about the program, such as timetables and total amounts of vaccine to be donated.

The United Kingdom and France have also committed to donating 10 percent of their supply to help fight the pandemic. Other countries making donations include Australia, Brazil, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.

Global production, by about 25 pharmaceutical companies in all, is projected to be 2 billion to 4 billion doses over a year. However, the number of people who could be protected is uncertain since the first tests of the pandemic vaccine showed that adults will need only one shot, not two as some experts predicted. Children, however, are likely to need two.

WHO however, has warned that production of swine flu vaccines will fall "substantially" short of the amount needed to protect the global population. "Current supplies of pandemic vaccine are inadequate for a world population in which virtually everyone is susceptible to infection by a new and readily contagious virus," Dr. Margaret Chan said in a statement.

Despite new evidence that only one dose of the vaccines currently being tested will be enough for most people, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said output next year will be "substantially less" than the 4.9 billion doses annual production forecast. This information comes as some 25 pharmaceutical laboratories working on vaccines have indicated that weekly production is lower than 94 million doses, he said, due to poorer than expected yields from the so-called "seed virus" strains developed by WHO-approved laboratories. In May, WHO forecasted a weekly output of 94.3 million doses, assuming full scale vaccine production.

Dr. Chan did say that the donations from the aforementioned countries, as well as doses pledged by some manufacturers, will help to alleviate issues in the imbalance of the supply and demand for the vaccine. The WHO has not yet said how it will distribute the vaccine.

View the entire article on the United States’ plans to donate at

No comments: