After almost four years of negotiations, the WHO on Saturday announced it had reached an agreement on sharing flu virus samples, Agence-France Presse reports (4/17).
Pneumonia & Flu
A draft agreement that would ensure countries would share virus samples in exchange for access to affordable vaccines derived from such samples in the event of a pandemic is nearly complete, senior diplomats told Reuters on Thursday. “Consensus has been reached across all regions, including Indonesia which three years ago stopped sharing influenza samples with the World Health Organization (WHO), but the United States has yet to give formal approval, they said,” according to the news service.
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Countries are narrowing in on a “deal to speed up their response to the next flu pandemic by sharing virus samples in return for access to affordable vaccines,” co-chairs of a WHO working group told reporters on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The group, which is meeting this week and just last week was in meetings with drug manufacturers and WHO member states about the plans, says it hopes to have a draft agreement finalized by Friday to be voted on during next month’s World Health Assembly, according to the news service (Nebehay, 4/12).
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WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Monday responded to the first results of a probe into the agency’s response to the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, Agence France-Presse reports. While calling attention to where the external panel committee commended the agency’s actions, Chan also addressed the criticisms and recommendations issued in the draft report (3/28). Her comments came as the review committee held its “fourth and final public session” in Geneva to receive “feedback from countries and organizations on its preliminary report,” CIDRAP News reports (Schnirring, 3/28).
Health officials in Venezuela announced on Friday the number of confirmed H1N1 (swine flu) cases in the country has grown to more than 200, the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports (3/25).
On the heels of the release of a draft report by an independent panel of experts examining the WHO’s response to H1N1 (swine flu), BMJ News reports on a recently approved resolution and accompanying report released by the European Union parliament that calls on EU countries to revise their flu prevention plans “to make them more effective, coherent, and flexible” and for the WHO to revise its definition of pandemic to take into account not only geographical spread of disease but also severity.
An independent panel of experts commissioned by the WHO to probe its response to the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic on Thursday released a draft report (.pdf) stating that while the organization performed well in many ways, it made “crucial mistakes” and “warned tens of millions could die if there is a severe flu outbreak in the future,” the Associated Press reports (3/10).
Lancet Infectious Diseases Examines How Resource Gaps Are Creating Barriers To Reduce Child Mortality
The Lancet Infectious Diseases’ Newsdesk examines how resource gaps in immunizations, health workers and financing are creating barriers to efforts to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, as highlighted in a recent Save the Children report. The article describes the role GAVI Alliance has played in increasing the number of children receiving vaccines worldwide and notes the $3.7 billion gap the group hopes to fill to expand its immunization campaign over the next four years.