Friday, March 16, 2007

Progress moving forward on pandemic flu vaccines, global experts report

Scientists around the globe are making progress in their efforts to create vaccines against pandemic influenza, the World Health Organization reported last month.

Meeting in Geneva in mid-February, experts reported "encouraging progress" on such vaccines, noting that 16 manufacturers from 10 countries are developing prototype pandemic influenza vaccines against H5N1, the avian influenza virus that is has caused 168 deaths worlwide, according to the WHO. Five manufacturers are also working on vaccines against three other types of avian influenza viruses -- H9N2, H5N2 and H5N3.

About 40 clinical trials involving the vaccines -- mostly focusing on healthy adults -- have been completed or are ongoing, WHO said.

In the United States in late February, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended that the agency approve the nation's first human vaccine against avian flu, despite the fact that the vaccine is not very effective. A two-shot series of the vaccine, by Sanofi Pasteur, only protected 45 percent of adults, according to news reports. As of mid-March, FDA had not yet approved the vaccine.

In spite of the encouraging progress on vaccine development, WHO cautioned that the world still lacks the manufacturing capacity to meet potential global pandemic influenza vaccine demand. The organization is working through its Global Pandemic Influenza Action Plan to enable developing countries to create their own influenza vaccine production facilities.


healthkick said...

I don't really understand why the advisory committee decided to recommend the vaccine if it doesn't really work. I guess they figured something that could potentially save half the population during a pandemic is better than nothing at all. I hope people realize that this is far from the final answer.

Anonymous said...

While the medical response to pandemic flu will be important to controlling its spread and limiting its toll, there are considerable non-medical issues related to flu preparedness that are essential for ensuring the continued well-being of the nation's economy. Planning for Continuity of Operations (COOP) and Continuity of Government (COG) is critical to maintaining
the overall viability of society. Thus, while we rightly prepare for the flu, we must be equally prepared to function during the flu.

The Center for Technology and National Security Policy of the DOD's National Defense University has prepared a number of freely-available items which can help civilians be prepared both before and during the flu. "Bird Flu and You" is a poster available in 9 languages with basic information about influenza preparedness. "Weathering the Storm" is a report with
information about planning for COOP, including instructions for carrying out "tabletop excercises" with a COOP plan.

Electronic copies of the poster are available at Electronic copies of the report are
available at, and to request hard copies of the report, contact the Life Sciences group at

Robert E. Armstrong, Ph.D.
Mark D. Drapeau, Ph.D.

Center for Technology and National Security Policy
National Defense University
Washington, DC