The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with vaccine manufacturers to move ahead on plans to create a global stockpile of vaccine for the H5N1 avian influenza virus, the UN agency said on Thursday.
According to a WHO statement, several pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, have expressed their willingness to contribute to the H5N1 global vaccine stockpile, which was requested by the World Health Assembly in May.
"This is another significant step toward creating a global resource to help the world and especially to help developing countries in case of a major outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza," said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general.
"WHO welcomes this contribution from the vaccines industry and is also working with countries to develop capacity for the production of influenza vaccines," she said.
Further work is needed on detailed operational planning for the stockpile, including how and under which conditions it will be deployed, as well as regulatory aspects of the vaccine.
As well as developing a stockpile of H5N1 vaccine, WHO is taking other measures to prepare for a potential influenza pandemic, including rapid containment plans to stop a pandemic using public health measures, assistance to developing countries to increase vaccine production capacity, etc.