Europe isn't wasting any time on its pandemic-vaccine plans. Today, Germany announced a deal for 50 million doses of the still-in-development vaccine, enough for about one-third of its citizens, health authorities said. Meanwhile, the U.K. is prepping for a massive shot campaign, hoping to reach the entire population--all 60 million.
The contrast between Germany's order and Britain's illuminates a debate over vaccine allocation. The WHO is criticizing countries that order vaccine supplies for every citizen; it says shots would then be apportioned unfairly among rich nations and poor nations. Germany chose to go with the WHO's recommendations. U.K. plans to go its own way. Of course, Britain is ranked fourth in the world for its high number of swine flu cases, and Germany doesn't make the top dozen.
Which drugmakers will benefit from these latest orders? At press time, there was no word which companies got Germany's business, but the U.K. selected GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter as its vaccine suppliers. U.K. is also aiming to boost its stock of antivirals, including GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza and Roche's Tamiflu, to treat 80 percent of the population. Its stockpile now covers about half.
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