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H1N1 Vaccine To Cost Countries $2.50 – $20 Per Dose

The H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine will cost countries between $2.50 and $20 per dose, based on their ability to pay, according to the director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research at the WHO, Marie-Paule Kieny, Agence France-Presse/Khaleej Times reports. During an interview published in the September issue of the WHO Bulletin, Kieny “also warned that there would not be enough vaccines for the world’s population and that people should not rely entirely on the vaccine,” the news service writes (9/2).

“Kieny stressed that it was neither possible nor necessary to vaccinate every person against the H1N1 flu, which has killed some pregnant women and people with other diseases such as diabetes but caused manageable flu symptoms in most patients,” Reuters writes. “We should not be ‘hypnotized’ by vaccines,” Kieny said. “There are other measures, such as social distancing, school closure, avoidance of large gatherings, antibiotics and personal hygiene,” she said, adding, “This is not like rabies, which is 100 percent fatal. We are talking about a disease from which most people recover very well” (MacInnis, 9/2).

The WHO Bulletin also features Kieny’s responses to questions about plans to help developing countries access the H1N1 vaccine, the safety of fast-tracked vaccines and the WHO’s recommendations for who should receive the H1N1 vaccine first (9/09).

The Associated Press/Seattle Times also reports on why it is difficult for scientists to predict whether the H1N1 vaccine can be administered in a single dose or require two doses to offer protection against the virus (9/2). Nature News features a series of short articles, written by researchers from around the world, highlighting the public health and scientific challenges presented by H1N1 (9/2).

Chinese Government Approves Mass Production Of Single-Dose H1N1 Vaccine

In related news, on Thursday, the Chinese government gave the Chinese drug manufacturer Sinovac the go-ahead to begin the mass production of its H1N1 vaccine, Al Jazeera reports. “The vaccine is the first to be approved by the Chinese regulator and is set to be followed by at least one other vaccine this week, made by Hualan Biological Engineering Incorporated. Another four vaccines are being reviewed,” the news service writes (9/3).

“Sinovac says it has the capacity to produce up to 30 million doses of swine flu vaccine in a year, while Hualan said it can make 160 million doses,” the AP reports. The article also includes information about quality concerns that could arise if China were to export vaccines. The WHO “says it is encouraged after reviewing the test details from one of the two Chinese vaccines. However, experts said more results are needed from other vaccine makers to determine if one dose would be potent enough,” the news service writes (Wong/Schmid, 9/2).

Novartis Reports Pilot Trial Shows Signs Single-Dose H1N1 Effective

The “Swiss drugmaker Novartis said Thursday one of its swine flu vaccines may work with just one dose, rather than two as previously expected, a finding that could potentially boost global supplies,” the AP/Washington Post reports. The WHO “would not comment specifically on Novartis’ vaccine since it had not yet seen the data. The agency said a number of companies were working on one-dose formulations which could theoretically increase the world’s swine flu vaccine supplies,” the news service writes (Cheng, 9/3).

Novartis’ announcement came after the results of a “pilot trial” involving 100 volunteers showed its H1N1 vaccine caused “a strong immune response after just one dose,” the news service writes, adding that “[o]ther studies with more than 6,000 adults and children are continuing,” Reuters reports  (Cage/Hornby, 9/3).

President Obama Requests $2.7B In Emergency H1N1 Funding

President Obama on Tuesday requested an additional $2.7 billion “in emergency H1N1 flu funding to buy vaccines, antiviral drugs and to make other preparations for an immunization campaign in the fall,” Roll Call reports (Dennis, 9/2). “The money is on top of $1.8 billion the administration earmarked in July for tackling the virus” and is part of funds that have already been appropriated, Reuters writes(9/3).