2nd WHO Consultation on Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines
15 July 2011, Geneva - On 12-14 July 2011, the WHO Headquarters hosted the second WHO Consultation on the Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines (GAP-II). For the first time since the GAP was developed in 2006, more than 100 representatives from the public health sector, national governments, research communities, WHO technology transfer projects, regulatory authorities, UN agencies, NGOs, manufacturers and other partners reviewed the progress under the GAP's three objectives.
The main focus of the second consultation was on countries' experience on pandemic preparedness and vaccine production. Participants also discussed practical ways to sustain and strengthen vaccine availability for pandemic preparedness, particularly in developing countries.
Key achievements of GAP I:
- The scope of GAP expanded from a focus on pandemic vaccines to encompassing global burden of seasonal influenza as well.
- GAP helped improve surveillance networks, map epidemiological patterns, ensure growing evidence in developing countries on disease burden in different populations (children, elderly), develop more strategies targeting countries to ensure equity.
- GAP demonstrated the capacity for the global community to come together and transfer technological expertise.
- Global production capacity for seasonal influenza vaccine increased from 350 million doses per year in 2006 to more than 800 million today, mainly as a result of investments from vaccine manufacturers and governments.
- Under the WHO technology transfer initiative, eleven developing countries - Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Romania, Serbia, Thailand, and Viet Nam - established influenza vaccine manufacturing capacities, or are decisively working towards this goal.
- New research and development resulted in promising novel antigen production methods - which could reduce the time to availability of first dose of pandemic vaccine and increase global supply-, new routes of vaccine delivery and administration. Novel vaccine concepts based on conserved virus antigens bring closer the holy grail of universal influenza vaccines.
Major outcomes of the meeting:
Clear priorities emerged for the second Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines, not least the need to build on the success of the first plan by ensuring that programmes already initiated can be sustained.
Other priorities include:
- More and better data on the burden of seasonal influenza, especially in lower-resourced countries to inform evidence-based influenza vaccination policy development
- Cost-effectiveness/cost-benefit analyses of seasonal vaccination
- Better understanding of vaccine effectiveness, in different populations and geographic locations
- Correlates of protection
- New vaccination strategies (e.g. for children)
- Communication strategies on the benefit of immunization against seasonal influenza
- Strengthening regional/local sustainable production capacity
- Methods to generate seed strains faster
- Additional work to reduce the production cost and retail price of influenza vaccines
- Continued research on new technologies and fast production strategies
- Safety studies of adjuvants and novel vaccine concepts
- New work on strengthening the downstream pandemic vaccine supply chain (cold chain, etc.)
- Continued funding with clear objectives as well as synergistic and simultaneous actions to meet prioritized targets
- The Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines needs to articulate clearly its complementarity with other WHO influenza preparedness and response activities, such as PIP framework, IHR RC recommendations, etc.