GENEVA, Sept 24 (KUNA) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) said
Thursday that regulatory authorities have licensed pandemic vaccines in
Australia, China, Hungary and the United States of America, soon to be
followed by Japan and several countries in Europe.
According to the WHO announcement, the length of the approval process to
produce the vaccines depends on factors such as each country's regulatory
pathway, the type of vaccine being licensed, and the stage of manufacturers'
readiness to submit appropriate information to regulatory authorities.
In May 2009, WHO estimated that, in a best case scenario, worldwide
production capacity for pandemic vaccines would be approximately 5 billion
doses per year. Since then, better information on production yield and
appropriate vaccine formulation has become available.
WHO currently estimates worldwide production capacity for pandemic vaccines
at approximately 3 billion doses per year.
While this figure is lower than previously projected, early data from
clinical trials suggest that a single dose of vaccine will be sufficient to
confer protective immunity in healthy adults and older children, effectively
doubling the number of people who can be protected with current supplies.
WHO estimates that these supplies will still be inadequate to cover a world
population of 6.8 billion people in which virtually everyone is susceptible to
infection by a new and readily contagious virus.
Global manufacturing capacity for influenza vaccines is limited, inadequate
and not readily augmented.
Pandemic vaccines, according to WHO, have their greatest impact as a
preventive strategy when administered before or near the peak incidence of
cases in an outbreak. Both regulatory authorities and vaccine manufacturers
have made extraordinary efforts to expedite the availability of vaccines.
Many affluent countries have previously contracted with manufacturers to
obtain sufficient vaccine supplies to cover their entire populations.
However, WHO says, most low- and middle-income countries lack the financial
resources to compete for an early share of limited supplies. Vaccine supplies
in these countries will largely depend on donations from manufacturers and
Last week, donations of pandemic vaccines for use in developing countries
were announced by the United States of America, in concert with Australia,
Brazil, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United
Kingdom. Similar support from additional countries is anticipated and warmly
WHO will be coordinating the distribution of these donated vaccines.
Earlier this year, WHO conducted surveys with its regional and country offices
to identify countries that will not have pandemic vaccines unless supplies are
The health organization announced that teams with expertise in field
operations, vaccines, and the logistics of their distribution are now working
in the JW Lee Centre for Strategic Health Operations (the SHOC room).
Initially, they will be distributing an estimated 300 million doses of vaccine
to more than 90 countries.
Distribution of the first batches of donated vaccines is expected to begin
in November. WHO continues to recommend that health workers be given high
priority for early vaccination. (end)
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