Building Stockpile Of H5N1 Avian Influenza Vaccine For Developing Countries

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Avian Influenza Vaccine

WHO organized Meeting on options for increasing the access of developing countries to H5N1 and other potential pandemic vaccines.

Approximately twenty Member States from the WHO European Region were represented at a high level global meeting convened by the Director-General and held in Geneva on 25 April 2007, with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), the Developing Country Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN), representatives from the WHO Regional Offices and missions in Geneva, to discuss the feasibility of creating a global H5N1 vaccine stockpile for developing countries.

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This would be a short term initiative to support countries that have suffered most from the ongoing outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 while medium and long-term efforts to provide broad access to pandemic vaccines continue, as outlined in the WHO Global Action Plan for Pandemic Influenza Vaccine (GAP). In this way, developing countries sharing viruses with the Global Influenza Surveillance Network (GISN), which performs analyses essential for global risk assessment, would also reap the benefits of vaccines produced mainly in developed countries and global public health security would be ensured.

The meeting discussed the scientific evidence for establishing an H5N1 stockpile, current and future influenza manufacturing capacity and the role WHO would play in establishing, maintaining, funding and using an H5N1 vaccine stockpile. Countries wanted more information on the technical challenges of a stockpile, and a technical briefing detailing the next steps to be taken by WHO, will be presented to the World Health Assembly in May 2007 for endorsement.

Representatives from the vaccine manufacturers said they were willing to work to meet the potentially increasing demand for vaccine and the DCVMN will work with WHO on this issue. A number of countries expressed their support for this initiative but also requested that WHO provide more evidence for the technical feasibility of an H5N1 vaccine stockpile. Current evidence from animal studies indicates that H5N1 vaccine is likely to give protection against several different virus strains, and a stockpile could therefore be useful against viruses that evolve two or three years in the future.

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