H1N1 Roundup -- WHO guidance, 2010 vaccine plans, CDC stockpile reduction
Several headlines regarding H1N1 influenza this week:
- A story in today's Washington Post reports on a WHO statement yesterday noting that "it was too early to declare that the H1N1 pandemic had peaked and [urging] nations around the world to remain vigilant." The statement appears not to be directly related to the current H1N1 situation in the U.S. and Europe, where this second peak of the pandemic has passed. More concerns are present for the Southern Hemisphere, where winter is approaching and the virus' spread may be increasing in some regions, according to WHO. Yesterday's statement advises countries to 'maintain' their surveillance programs, replacing previous recommendations to 'intensify' them. More details are available in this WHO statement.
- Earlier this week, an FDA vaccine advisory committee voted to include a 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza strain in the 2010-2011 'regular' flu vaccine (i.e., next winter). This recommendation comes a few days after an identical statement from a WHO committee. It does not come as a surprise, given how common the pandemic H1N1 virus has been this flu season compared to other flu viruses. Experts have long said that if H1N1 had emerged a few months earlier in 2009 than it did, it likely would have been included in the standard seasonal flu vaccine, eliminating the need for (and challenges created by) two influenza vaccines this season. Here's coverage from the Wall Street Journal and CIDRAP News, and a statement posted on Flu.gov.
- As supply of the current H1N1 vaccine continues to far exceed demand and vaccine doses approach expiration dates, CDC announced earlier this week plans to reduce by 50% the inventory of vaccine doses held at their central distribution facilities. This is another indication that the current H1N1 vaccination program is winding down.