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.