Canadian Press: West to subsidize poisoning the third world

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Richard Moore

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Sep 19, 2009, 3:47:15 AM9/19/09
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A number of developed countries, led by the United States, have announced they will honour a request from the WHO and donate 10 per cent of their vaccine purchases, on an ongoing basis, for redistribution to less developed countries that haven't been able to purchase pandemic vaccine.



Vaccine output will be less than predicted: WHO

Updated Fri. Sep. 18 2009 11:22 AM ET

The Canadian Press

Countries that receive donated pandemic vaccine will be required to sign waivers releasing donors, manufacturers and the World Health Organization from liability, the Geneva-based global health agency has revealed.

A number of developed countries, led by the United States, have announced they will honour a request from the WHO and donate 10 per cent of their vaccine purchases, on an ongoing basis, for redistribution to less developed countries that haven't been able to purchase pandemic vaccine.

Canada, which expects to have millions of excess doses of pandemic vaccine, is not among the donor countries.

Though the Public Health Agency of Canada has previously said it was negotiating with pandemic vaccine maker GlaxoSmithKline to turn back unused vaccine so it could be sold elsewhere, it's not currently clear if Canada will donate pandemic vaccine and if not, why not.

"At this time, Canada is doing an analysis of various options to support the provision of H1N1 vaccine to developing countries," the agency said Friday in an emailed response to questions.

"Regardless of what decision is taken, Canada has ensured that the vaccine needs of Canadians are met."

The WHO applauded the generosity of donor countries -- the U.S., Britain, New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Norway, Brazil and Switzerland -- in a statement Friday, saying the contributions demonstrated a commitment to fairness in the sharing of a scarce resource.

"Given that current demand outstrips supply, these donations, together with the doses pledged by manufacturers, will help increase supplies of pandemic vaccines to populations that would otherwise not have access," the WHO said.

Key to the program, however, is the willingness of recipient countries to agree to take on all liability, should any adverse events arise from use of the vaccine.

"This is not negotiable with the industry," Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, head of the WHO's vaccine research initiative, explained in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Kieny said WHO regional offices will stipulate that condition to would-be recipients when they discuss the issue with countries.

It is unclear how much vaccine will be donated through the program with the nine countries, WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl said Friday from Geneva. But whatever the figure is, it will be in addition to donations of 150 million doses pledged by Sanofi Pasteur (100 million doses) and GSK (50 million doses), Hartl said.

Twenty per cent of the GSK donation will come from its Canadian plant at Ste-Foy, Que.

Hartl told reporters in Geneva that global production of swine flu vaccine will be "substantially less" than the previous maximum forecast of 94 million doses a week. That means the number produced in a year will fall short of the 4.9 billion doses WHO had previously hoped could be available for the pandemic, he said.

Manufacturers have reported the virus produces a disappointing yield -- substantially lower than that seen with seasonal flu production.

On the plus side, however, studies suggest adults and maybe even adolescents and teenagers will only need one dose of pandemic vaccine to be protected against the new H1N1 virus -- thereby halving vaccine needs. It had been feared that two doses per person would be required.



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