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Health and Human Services stockpiles 20 million bird flu Vaccines

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to stock vaccines and anti-viral drugs for 20 million people has come under strong criticism for the past some days by Infectious Diseases // Society of America and other critics who say that the stocks are not enough and HHS should stock at least 100 million vaccine stocks in order to effectively prevent flu pandemic.

HHS earlier announced that it would be stock piling vaccines to prevent any pandemics of bird flu which is causing great havoc in Asian countries and increased fears exist regarding the possible chances of the strain becoming mutated and getting adopted to infecting humans, the federal wanted to prevent a pandemic of bird flu which earlier occurred during 1918 worldwide causing death of over 50 million people. To avoid such a situation again the HHS as announced that it will be stock piling vaccines stocks and anti viral drugs for treatment of 20 million people.

Researchers are finding out the exact protective dosage of vaccine required for immunization, as the dosage now fixed is about 2 doses of 90 microgram doses to give full immunization protection against flu infection.

HHS has given new two contracts for development and production of flu vaccines and drugs as a planning for prevention of any pandemic. It has sanctioned $100 million and $ 2.8 million to Sanofi Pasteur for development of a new drug and GlaxoSmithKline for its antiviral drug Relenza respectively.

Dr. Andrew Pavia of Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) is happy about federals decision to stockpile vaccines and drugs for prevention of bird flu pandemic, he says that the steps taken by HHS is not enough to avoid an outbreak of bird flu and a lot more has to be done and the steps taken now will not have any effect on prevention or combating bird flu. He said the governments decision to have 20 million vaccines is very much low and will not have any significant difference as about 100 million treatment courses of vaccine is required to immunize 40 million people so ideally a stockpile of 100 million vaccine vials is required. 'Ultimately you would want to be able to vaccinate the whole population because historically pandemics come in waves and continue to come in waves,' Pavia said. As flu vaccine production and validation process takes about 6 months of time so in case of an emergency requirement this cannot be available.

Dr. Walter Tsou, President American Public Health Association also agreed with the remarks of Dr. Pavia and he said ideally a stockpile of 50 million doses would be sufficient and the government should take a strict and fast surveillance to report any first case of bird flu infection. 'We need to be putting more money in a disease surveillance system so when the first case comes here we’re ready to use the vaccine,' he said.

Source: United Press International.

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