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Pharmaceutical firms have met with other experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) to work out the best way to tackle swine flu after the number of worldwide case topped the 6,600 mark.
The problem facing vaccine makers is that the virus constantly mutates. Other details that need to be worked put include: the amount needed; methods of distribution; and which part of the population to target the vaccine at.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan is expected to issue advice to vaccine manufacturers and the World Health Assembly next week after receiving the expert’s recommendations.
One question that particularly needs answering is when to tell manufacturers they must switch from a seasonal vaccine to one that works against the pandemic strain.
WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said: “No big decisions, no announcements. These are enormously complicated questions, and they are not something that anyone can make in a single meeting.”
But some, like vaccines expert David Fedson, feel the main decision has already been made. He said: “It’s a foregone conclusion. If we don’t invest in an H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine, then possibly we could have a reappearance of this virus in a mild, moderate, or catastrophic form and we would have absolutely nothing.”
Copyright Press Association 2009