Swine flu blues: Vaccinations could be delayed

About Scott Hensley

Scott Hensley runs NPR's online health channel, Shots. Previously he was the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog and covered the drug industry and the Human Genome Project for the Journal. Hensley serves on AHCJ's board of directors. You can follow him at @ScottHensley.

Summertime and forgetting about swine flu is easy. But the World Health Organization yanked us back to reality.

The H1N1 virus isn’t taking a vacation. Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research, said the “pandemic is unstoppable” and “all countries will need to have access to vaccines” in a briefing yesterday.

But making a swine flu vaccine looks more difficult than expected, which could delay when folks could get immunized against the bug.

Even when a vaccine becomes available there won’t be enough to go around. So WHO recommends that health-care workers get jabbed first.

A big problem remains that there simply aren’t enough vaccine factories to supply the world’s needs, WHO Director General Margaret Chan said today. She defended the patent system and called for incentives to encourage innovation by drugmakers.

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