H1N1 vaccine becomes available — but WHO chief is not happy

Written by Staff Writer at CNN Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), says a new vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus is “immoral” and “unfair.” The WHO on…

H1N1 vaccine becomes available -- but WHO chief is not happy

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), says a new vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus is “immoral” and “unfair.”

The WHO on Thursday launched a new H1N1 vaccine, built by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline , which is said to be safer and also lasts longer than its existing counterpart.

The pre-trial vaccine, called H1N1/NHS, will be distributed to the world’s poorest countries, WHO said. It also showed “higher levels of protection against swine flu” compared with existing vaccine, it added.

It’s unclear when the vaccine may become available to the general public, as well as the price it will sell for, but GlaxoSmithKline says it will offer the vaccine in September 2019 to countries that signed an agreement with them.

Writing on Twitter, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — who was elected to the leadership position in May — questioned why rich countries should subsidize the H1N1 vaccine and not other vaccines.

He said he was most concerned with “foreign drug companies getting a leg up on generic manufacturers.”

“H1N1 vaccine is unfair for those requiring it,” he added.

GlaxoSmithKline called Tedros’ comments “appalling.”

The company described H1N1/NHS as a “breakthrough vaccine that ensures universal coverage while enabling developing country communities to benefit from new medicines.”

It added: “We also want to thank GGP (GlaxoSmithKline Global Vaccines) from the bottom of our hearts for the collaboration and risk mitigation they have made possible. This is an ethical and sustainable solution to the global pandemic vaccine gap.”

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told CNN that the campaign would be launching in less than five months and called it “a big moment in public health history.”

“We can now give all of the more than 15,000 million people eligible for a new H1N1 vaccine coverage this year,” he said.

The new vaccine was created with another vaccine developed by the WHO and has no adjuvant, which is a chemical modification that boosts the immune response.

“The vaccination efficacy in children was around 80% and older adults higher, for example around 90%.” Jasarevic said.

The vaccine will be tested in children under 5 years old and adults aged 50 years and older, Jasarevic said. This trial will also help confirm the vaccine’s efficacy when used for elderly people.

GlaxoSmithKline also developed the WHO-approved pneumococcal vaccine, which was made available for children, Jasarevic said. It was also the first company to bring a new measles vaccine to the market.

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