WHO wants faster, more flu vaccine production
By Min Lee|AP
HONG KONG — The vaccine used to contain the recent swine flu pandemic was effective, but health authorities will need to ramp up the speed and volume of production during the next global outbreak, a World Health Organization official said Monday.
The WHO declared last month that the swine flu pandemic that started in June 2009 was over, after it killed about 18,600 people worldwide, far less than the worse-case scenarios in which authorities said millions could die.
The widespread use of vaccines was critical in limiting the number of casualties, with studies showing they offered protection in up to 95 percent of cases, WHO official David Wood said at a news conference on the sidelines of an influenza conference in Hong Kong.
Some 350 million doses of the vaccine were administered worldwide, according to WHO figures.
“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, said Wood, the quality and safety team co-ordinator for the WHO’s immunization and vaccines department.