Qatar will not compromise on the quality of the HIN1 vaccine which it expects to get by mid-October, a senior official of the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said yesterday.
The assurance came amid widespread concerns about the possible side effects of the H1N1 vaccine, which some countries have already started using.
“There are several manufacturing companies in the field and we have been very cautious about the company and the quality of the product. We will accept the vaccine only if the manufacturers have the final approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for their product,” Dr Ahmed Kamal Naji, Assistant Minister for health affairs at SCH told The Peninsula.
“We have been putting pressure on the manufacturing company to deliver the vaccine as soon it is ready. The company is awaiting final approval from WHO for its product. We hope to get the vaccine by mid-October. If everything goes as planned, we will be in a position to vaccinate all Haj pilgrims from Qatar before their departure to Saudi Arabia,” added Naji.
He said Qatar was also expecting to get enough quantities of the vaccine from the manufacturer that can meet the requirements of the country.
Meanwhile, WHO has said that the national regulatory authorities had licensed HiN1 vaccines in Australia, China and the US, soon to be followed by Japan and several countries in Europe.
WHO currently estimates worldwide production capacity for pandemic vaccines at approximately 3 billion doses per year.
“While this figure is lower than previously projected, early data from clinical trials suggest that a single dose of vaccine will be sufficient to confer protective immunity in healthy adults and older children, effectively doubling the number of people who can be protected with current supplies,” WHO said in a recent posting at its website.
These supplies will still be inadequate to cover a world population of 6.8 billion people in which virtually everyone is susceptible to infection by a new and readily contagious virus. Global manufacturing capacity for influenza vaccines is limited, inadequate and not readily augmented.
According to WHO, the side effects of the vaccine are expected to be similar to those observed with seasonal influenza vaccines. Common side effects include local reactions at the injection site (soreness, swelling, redness) and possibly some systemic reactions (fever, headache, muscle or joint aches). In almost all vaccine recipients, these symptoms are mild, self-limited and last one to two days.
“However, even very large clinical trials will not be able to identify possible rare events that can occur when pandemic vaccines are administered to many millions of people,” said the Organisation.
WHO has advised all countries administering pandemic vaccines to conduct intensive monitoring for safety and to report adverse events.
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