WHO will consider switch to swine flu vax

Vaccine experts at the World Health Organization plan to gather next week to consider whether the world's vaccine industry should start as early as May 14 to begin making mass quantities of a new swine flu vaccine.

Any new focus on a jab to guard against this new A/H1N1 strain of swine flu would come at the expense of the massive logistical effort needed to supply the globe with 900 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine. Every year, seasonal flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people.

"We would not want to have no seasonal influenza vaccine, said Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research. Another consideration, she adds, would be to make sure that lesser developer countries would not be muscled aside by wealthier countries in a possible competitive fervor to acquire a stockpile of swine flu vaccine. WHO plans to meet with executives at the world's 20 vaccine manufacturers to make that point clear.

"We want to discuss with them avenues to ensure more equitable access for developing countries to this vaccine when it is available," she said.

- read the report from Reuters

ALSO: Health officials have been relieved to see that the virus appears to be only mildly threatening in most countries and appears to be on the wane in Mexico, where it erupted. Now the focus will turn to the southern hemisphere as the flu season begins there. Any mutations in the virus that could make it more dangerous will be closely watched. Report