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Bird flu vaccine production insufficient

A study showns that drug companies have increased their capacity to make bird flu vaccines by 300% in the past 2 years. However, another 4 years are needed to meet global demand in the event of a pandemic, reports Reuters.

Additionally, 4 months are needed after the strain is identified to access doses of vaccine tailored to the actual strain.

According to Adam Sabow, partner at Oliver Wyman which conducted the study*, considerable progress has been made to enhance the production capacity of pandemic influenza vaccine. "While capacity still falls short of global need during a pandemic, the surplus capacity during the inter-pandemic period creates opportunities for preparedness efforts," he said.

In case of a bird flu pandemic

The study found that in the most likely case, manufacturers could produce 2.5 bln doses of pandemic vaccine in the 12 months following receipt of the production strain, requiring four years to satisfy global demand.

In the current best-case scenario, 7.7 bln doses could be produced in the first 12 months, requiring 1.5 years to satisfy global demand. Production was expected to increase significantly over the next 5 years.

Effective coverage through mass immunisation is based on 2 doses per person for a global population of 6.7 bln.
There are currently at least 16 companies working on pandemic vaccines.

* Oliver Wyman carried out the study with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).

Source: Reuters

Natalie Berkhout

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