Chan Calls For Additional H1N1 Vaccines For Poor Countries During WHO Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting
During the WHO Asia-Pacific regional meeting Monday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan discussed the organization's efforts to ensure that poor nations have access to H1N1 vaccines, VOA News reports (Bayron, 9/21). ABC Radio Australia reports Chan is seeking "three billion doses of swine flu vaccine to be made available worldwide, especially in developing countries where it still poses a serious risk" (9/22).
Despite the global economic crisis, Chan also urged countries to work for health reform, and emphasized "the H1N1 pandemic underscores the need for greater access to public health systems, especially in poorer nations," VOA News writes (9/21).
China Begins H1N1 Vaccination Campaign
In related news, China on Monday began an H1N1 vaccination campaign in Beijing marking what is believed to be "the first nation in the world to start inoculating its population against the virus," Agence France-Presse reports. The campaign will first target the estimated 100,000 students who are participating in the country's National Day celebrations next week. "The health ministry has said it plans to vaccinate 65 million people, or five percent of the country's total population of 1.3 billion, before year's end," the news service writes (Barriaux, 9/21). According to Chinese health officials, the more than 10,000 students who have received the H1N1 vaccine so far have not reported adverse reactions, Reuters reports (9/22).
Clinical Trials Show Single-Dose Vaccine Protects Children, Ages 10 To 17; Younger Children Need Booster
Also on Monday, U.S. health officials announced the results of the latest H1N1 vaccine clinical trials, which revealed a single-dose of the H1N1 vaccine produces an immune response in children ages 10 to 17 years similar to the response seen in adults, the New York Times reports. "Children 6 months to 9 years old received some protection from one shot, but not enough, so health officials will recommend that they get two shots 21 days apart," a pattern similar to that seen with the seasonal flu vaccine, the newspaper writes (McNeil, 9/21).
The preliminary results were based on tests of the H1N1 vaccine in about 600 children, ages 6 months to 17 years, the Washington Post reports, and suggest the vaccines are safe in children. "Although data are not yet available for the new FluMist nasal spray, officials said they expect similar findings for that [H1N1] vaccine," the newspaper writes (Stein, 9/22).
USA Today: "'As we had hoped, in children the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is acting like seasonal flu vaccine,' says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the study. 'The response in young children is less robust, but this is not unexpected'" (Sternberg, 9/21).
NPR's "Health Blog": "Results on how the vaccine performs in pregnant women -- also considered at higher risk from swine flu, along with children, young adults and those with chronic medical conditions -- are expected sometime next month" (Knox, 9/21).
U.S. Government Orders More H1N1 Vaccine, Bringing Total To 251M
Associated Press/Boston Globe: "Also [Monday], the United States ordered more swine flu vaccine, bringing its eventual total to 251 million doses, up from the long-planned 195 million doses. That's an ambitious undertaking for a country where fewer than 100 million people normally get a winter flu shot" (Neergaard, 9/22). AP/ABC News reports the government ordered an "extra 27.3 million doses" from Sanofi Pasteur and "29 million more doses of the nasal-spray version of swine flu vaccine, MedImmune LLC's FluMist" (9/21).
Washington Business Journal: "MedImmune said it's already produced enough bulk vaccine to fill those HHS orders -- the company has said it has the capacity to produce 200 million doses -- and it said the FDA has already begun releasing its first 3.4 million doses of its FluMist-based product" (Sinha, 9/21).
New York Times Examines U.S. Officials' Decision Not To Use Adjuvants
The New York Times examines U.S. health officials's decision not to stretch the H1N1 vaccine supply with adjuvants, even though it could mean increasing the access of developing nations to supplies. "We have always argued that using adjuvanted vaccine would leave more vaccine for poor people," Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research. "Wealthy nations have contracted for much of the expected pandemic vaccine production, leaving little for poorer countries," the newspaper writes. "But while Canada and some European nations will use vaccines containing adjuvants, American officials have decided against it for now. They say that they have enough vaccine and that the safety of the additives has not been proved" (Pollack, 9/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.