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WHO In Talks With Developed Countries About Sharing H1N1 Vaccine With Developing Nations

The recent news that a single dose of H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine can protect adults against the virus has sparked conversations between the WHO and developed countries about sharing their vaccine stockpiles with developing countries, Bloomberg reports. Because some countries, including Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S., secured vaccine orders when scientists believed two doses of the H1N1 vaccine would needed, “[s]ome may have excessive stocks of vaccine and some won’t see the demand they have expected,” Thomas Zeltner, director of Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health, said.

In the U.S., about 600 million doses of H1N1 vaccines have been secured through advanced purchase agreements. Though it is too early to know for sure, “[i]n a best-case scenario, the U.S. may need only half that amount, said Rebecca Martin, medical officer at the United Nations health agency’s European communicable diseases unit,” the news service writes. The U.S. is in talks with the WHO to see if vaccine supplies could be distributed to countries in need, according to Nancy Cox of the CDC.

“Concern that vaccine bought by governments might not get used by their people may make countries more inclined to share supplies with poorer nations, said Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO’s Initiative for Vaccine Research,” the news service writes. “‘Some countries may take a more altruistic view now,’ she said. ‘We will see this fear of not being able to use all of it and concern of public money being spent unwisely, and you may now start to see generosity mushrooming’” (Cortez, 9/16).

India Awaits Approval For H1N1 Vaccine

The Indian Express examines the ongoing efforts underway in India to approve H1N1 vaccines for public use. Despite the recent approval of H1N1 vaccines in the U.S. by the FDA, Indian authorities say the country must run its own clinical trials before approving the vaccine for public distribution (Rashid, 9/17).

Baxter International Says Vaccine Production Yield Has Increased Three-Fold

Baxter International Inc., on Wednesday announced the company has recently been able to increase the H1N1 vaccine production yields three-fold and has started to ship doses of the vaccine out weekly, Reuters reports. “Vaccine makers have been struggling with yields, creating concerns of a shortfall,” the news service writes. However, it remains unclear whether a single dose of the Baxter H1N1 vaccine is effective, according to a company spokesperson (9/16).

CNN Examines China’s H1N1 Vaccine Lab

CNN looks inside the laboratories of Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the first in the world to complete H1N1 vaccine clinical trials and the first company in China to win government approval for its vaccine. The article includes information about China’s efforts to protect its citizens from H1N1 since the virus emerged last spring and some skepticism over the new vaccine (Chang, 9/16).

Health Officials Prepare To Mitigate Fears Over Safety Of H1N1 Vaccine

Reuters examines how U.S. and global health officials are preparing to mitigate public fears over the safety of the H1N1 vaccine. Health officials “expect an avalanche of so-called adverse event reports, which are reports of death, illness or other health trauma that occur within two weeks after receiving treatment — in this case, the swine flu vaccine” – all of which will be reported, the news service writes.

Though flu experts feel confident the H1N1 vaccine is safe, “‘If we have a safety signal in one country it could stop vaccination efforts in others,’ WHO’s top flu expert Dr Keiji Fukuda told a meeting of infectious disease specialists organized by the U.S. Institute of Medicine this week,” Reuters writes. The article includes information about surveillance efforts in the U.S. to ensure adverse events relating to the H1N1 vaccine are monitored (Fox, 9/16).

Brazil H1N1 Deaths At 899, Number Of New H1N1 Cases Slows

According to Brazil’s health ministry, 899 people have died from H1N1 in the country, “maintaining its status as the country worst-hit by the pandemic,” Agence France-Presse reports. However, the health ministry also said the number of H1N1 cases in the country has dropped for the “fifth straight week,” the news service writes (9/16).

USAID Awards $450,000 Grant To Vietnam To Aid In Flu Preparation

VOV News reports that a $450,000 grant from USAID to the Vietnam Red Cross Society will go to bolstering the country’s H1N1 preparedness and to deal with other health threats (9/17)