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October 30, 2006
Volume 84, Number 44
p. 11


Fighting Flu

World Health Organization lays out new plan for fighting pandemic influenza

David Hanson

Concerned about the potential death toll from an international influenza pandemic due to shortages of effective vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for immediate and sustained action and more funding to stockpile vaccines and improve vaccine production.

As laid out in its new "Global Pandemic Influenza Action Plan," WHO "sets the course for what needs to be done, starting now, to increase vaccine production capacity and close the gap," comments Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research.

WHO says world flu vaccine capacity by 2008-09 will not likely exceed 2.34 billion doses, but an influenza pandemic, such as widespread avian influenza, would lead to calls to vaccinate the world's entire population of 6.7 billion people.

Three approaches to closing the vaccine supply gap are identified in the action plan: increasing seasonal influenza vaccine stockpiles to stimulate industrial production, building production capacity by improving vaccine yields, and increasing spending on research to design more effective vaccines.

The U.S. supports the WHO plan and is already making significant investments to prevent a pandemic, says Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt. In addition, Leavitt says the U.S. is giving $10 million to WHO to support vaccine development in other nations. "It is our collective global resources and cooperation that will make our preparedness efforts a success," Leavitt says.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society