U.N. says H1N1 flu vaccine reserves not enough

While the global production capacity for H1N1 flu vaccines now stands at three billion doses per year, the United Nations says that it is still inadequate for coverage of the world population.

In a recent update, the U.N. praised vaccine manufacturers and regulatory authorities for their hard work in facilitating vaccine availability. Many affluent countries have contracts with manufacturers to obtain enough vaccines to cover their entire populations, but most of the low and middle-income countries lack the financial resources for this preventative measure, according to the World Health Organization.

“These supplies will still be inadequate to cover a world population of 6.8 billion people in which virtually everyone is susceptible to infection by a new and readily contagious virus,” the World Health Organization reported in the update. “Global manufacturing capacity for influenza vaccines is limited, inadequate and not readily augmented.”

The United States, in concert with Brazil, Italy, France, Australia, Brazil, Norway, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Switzerland announced donations last week of pandemic vaccines for developing countries.

The WHO stressed the need for early treatment with antiviral drugs for patients with worsening signs and symptoms and warned clinicians about situations that carry a high risk for the emergence of viruses resistant to antiviral drugs like oseltamivir.