Suggestion for Prepandemic Vaccine Ignites Debate

An influenza specialist who previously led the World Health Organization's (WHO's) flu program and now works for Novartis, has recommended that developing a prepandemic vaccination to get a grip on the next flu endemic, a thought that other experts are welcoming with concern or cynicism.

Dr. Klaus Stohr, ex-Director of the WHO's Global Influenza Programme, suggests developing a vaccine including a "cocktail" of flu strains considered apt to cause the next epidemic, together with an adjuvant (immune-system stimulant). He proposes the plan in an opinion article released yesterday online by Nature.

The proposal of prepandemic vaccine has been around for years, stimulated by some researches implying that adjuvants can make flu vaccines defensive against more than just the particular viral damage they are based on.

But since of a lot of doubts like an approach, together with security questions and the volatile timing of epidemics, it has never got much footing.

Stohr says that prepandemic vaccination would help deal with the problem when an epidemic virus surfaces. It takes around 6 months to develop and generate a well-suited vaccination for it, as was exhibited last year with the epidemic H1N1 virus.

He says that this idea can also help lessen the massive scarcity of production capacity to meet worldwide requirements.