WHO cuts swine flu vaccine production estimate
SWITZERLAND: The World Health Organization said Thursday that
pharmaceutical firms can produce only three billion doses of swine flu
vaccines a year, covering less than half of the global population.
However, tests on the vaccine show that just one jab would offer
sufficient protection against the A(H1N1) virus and that the vaccine is
as safe as seasonal flu vaccines.
“Outcomes of trials completed to date suggest that pandemic vaccines
are as safe as seasonal influenza vaccines,” the UN agency said in a
statement, adding that side effects arising from the pandemic vaccines
should be “similar” to those observed in seasonal flu vaccines.
These symptoms include fever, headache, muscle or joint aches, and
should be mild and last up to two days.
Tests on the drugs also indicate that only one dose would be needed,
effectively doubling the number of people who can be covered.
This helps in part to relieve pressure on stocks, especially since
annual production would cover less than half of the world’s 6.8 billion
In May, the WHO had forecast a weekly output of 94.3 million doses,
or an annual capacity of five billion doses.
But pharmaceutical companies have since slashed production forecasts
due to poorer than expected yields from the so-called “seed virus”
strains developed by WHO-approved laboratories. The WHO acknowledged
that global manufacturing capacity is “limited, inadequate and not
Amid growing fears that poorer nations will not get enough vaccines,
the United States this month led nine countries to pledge to make 10
percent of their swine flu vaccine supply available to other nations in
The WHO said it would be coordinating the distribution of the donated
vaccines, with an initial 300 million doses of vaccines to be sent to
more than 90 countries. GENEVA, Friday, AFP