Influenza :: Grant to India to prepare for influenza pandemic

India is among six developing countries who have been awarded grants to establish capacity to manufacture influenza vaccine so that it is readily available in case a pandemic breaks out, the United Nations health agency has announced.

The other nations include Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam, each getting up to USD 2.5 million from funds provided by the United States and Japan to begin the process of acquiring the technology to produce the vaccine.

The United States has provided USD 10 million and Japan USD 8 million for technology transfer, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

Experts say it is important to establish production lines in developing nations which can be easily adapted to produce vaccines for bird flu should the virus mutate to make human to human infection possible.

WHO said it will take a minimum of three to five years for the grant recipient countries to begin producing vaccine locally. Until then, these countries will require support to ensure they can access vaccine to protect their populations.

“It is imperative that the global community works collectively to ensure more equitable access to a vaccine and other health measures in the event of an influenza pandemic. We all have a responsibility to protect global public health security,” said Dr David L Heymann, WHO Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases.

“Global public health security can only be realised if developing countries are assisted in developing the capabilities to access pandemic vaccines and protect their populations,” he said.

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