World production of swine flu vaccines will be “substantially less” than the forecast 94 million doses a week, the World Health Organisation said today.
Annual doses will fall short of the 4.9 billion the global health body previously hoped could be available for the pandemic, a WHO spokesman said.
Production will be lower because some manufacturers are still turning out vaccines for seasonal flu – an illness that can be serious in sick and elderly people.
Production problems also have reduced the weekly output of the pandemic vaccine.
Britain, the US, France and six other countries announced yesterday that they will share part of their vaccine supply with poorer countries.
The WHO welcomed the move, saying it “demonstrates the commitment of these countries to fairness in sharing of scare resources.”
“Current supplies of pandemic vaccine are inadequate for a world population in which virtually everyone is susceptible to infection by a new and readily contagious virus,” it said.
The WHO said that in theory all the world’s 6.3 billion people should receive at least one dose of vaccine against the pandemic strain of H1N1 – also known as swine flu – to ensure comprehensive protection against the disease, which has so far killed some 3,500 people.