WHO says flu vaccine production to double by 2015

The World Health Organization recently announced that it expects global annual production of the seasonal influenza vaccine to double by 2015.

With the addition of an expected 11 new manufacturers slated to begin vaccine production in developing countries by 2015, the availability of the seasonal flu vaccine will be approximately 1.7 billion doses per year, according to Reuters.

During a crisis, such as a new influenza pandemic, the world’s projected 37 vaccine makers would have the potential to triple their annual output of a trivalent vaccine. The United Nations puts the estimated number of doses in such a scenario at 5.4 billion.

The actual amount the vaccine-makers could produce would ultimately, however, depend on the yield of the virus grown in eggs and the amount of adjuvant used in the vaccine, according to Reuters. For the H1N1 vaccine, the yield from eggs remains quite low.

The WHO came under fire in 2009-2010 for a slow response during the H1N1 pandemic. Critics said the vaccine was distributed too slowly in poor countries and that the drug industry had influenced its decision making process.

"What we are continuing to do is to make sure that not only will there be more pandemic vaccine if need be, but also that the sites where these vaccines will be produced will be more diverse geographically and more populations of the world will have earlier access to pandemic vaccine," WHO Assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny said, Reuters reports.