WHO meets as experts demand new flu vax

Officials with the world's leading vaccine suppliers will meet with regulators and scientists at the World Health Organization today to consider whether to launch a massive three to six-month effort to begin manufacturing a global stockpile of swine flu vaccine.

A number of top vaccine experts say that it appears absolutely essential to start designing and making a new vaccine. The Mexican strain of the virus appears to require the hospitalization of 9-10 percent of the people who get it. And four out of every 1,000 people who are infected are killed by the virus.

"It's almost a no-brainer," Robert Webster, a flu expert at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, tells Bloomberg. "It makes sense for vaccine companies to get all their ducks lined up, as it were, to make a vaccine for this new strain."

"If you don't make the vaccine and the virus comes back, even in a moderate form, we will not have prepared at all," said Vanderbilt University's William Schaffner. "If it comes back in a more virulent form, we in public health would have egg on our face. Making the vaccine has almost no downside, except for the expenditure of money."

- read the report from Bloomberg

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