Creating a global stockpile of H5N1 avian flu vaccine may be feasible, bird flu experts from around the world agreed in late April.
Meeting at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, a diverse group of experts — including health leaders from countries that have experienced human H5N1 infections, representatives from countries that are funding avian flu research and vaccine manufacturers — agreed that both scientific evidence and international political commitment support efforts to establish a stockpile of H5N1 vaccine. The meeting participants also supported developing a mechanism to ensure that developing countries have access to pandemic influenza vaccine in the event of a pandemic.
"We have taken another crucial step forward in ensuring that all countries have access to the benefits of international influenza virus sharing and pandemic vaccine production," said Margaret Chan, WHO director-general. "All countries will now be better placed to protect the public health security of their people and the world at large."
WHO is now working to set up expert groups to focus on the details of how to create, maintain, fund and use an H5N1 vaccine stockpile.
Also during the meeting, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, which represents research-based pharmaceutical companies, reported that it forecast increased manufacturing capacity for seasonal influenza vaccine in the next three to five years to meet potential growing demand.