WHO official warns that vaccine production must be increased

World Health Organization official have announced that, while the vaccine used to combat the recent swine flu pandemic was effective, health officials will need to will need to increase the speed and volume of production during the next global outbreak.

During a recent influenza conference in Hong Kong, WHO official David Wood said that the widespread use of vaccines was crucial in limiting the number of number of casualties, the Associated Press reports. WHO officials declared the swine flu pandemic over in August after it killed 18,600 people.

Wood told the Associated Press that studies have shown that vaccines offered protection in 95 percent of cases. It is estimated that approximately 350 million doses of the vaccine were administered worldwide.

“That gives us considerable hope for the future, for the future pandemics, that the technologies that we have to actually make the vaccines are effective,” Wood told the Associated Press.

Wood did note, however, that in some cases, production of the vaccine was behind schedule.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flu expert Nancy Cox told the Associated Press that vaccinations in the U.S. began on October 5, just weeks after a second wave of cases hit as schools were going back into session.

Wood said that WHO officials are looking into ways to make the vaccine more rapidly, but did not elaborate on specifics.
“In the short term, we'll be able to make some gains of weeks that Nancy was talking about that can make all the difference. In the longer term, we may even have these new technologies that shorten our lag more significantly, so I'm quite optimistic,” Wood told the Associated Press.