GENEVA (Reuters) - There will likely be a continued need for both seasonal and H1N1 pandemic flu vaccine production, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said it will be important for pharmaceutical companies to keep making seasonal flu jabs because that more common virus causes severe illness in 2 to 3 million people a year and kills up to 500,000.
“We are moving on two tracks to ensure some security for seasonal vaccine and at the same time kick-starting early scientific work for pandemic vaccine,” Chan said, saying a seed virus to be used in vaccines should be ready by the end of May.
The WHO should make a recommendation “soon” about the best balance for vaccine production, Chan said. Flu vaccine makers include GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis and Baxter International.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Writing by Laura MacInnis