WHO likely to give H1N1 jab guidance on Monday

GENEVA Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:12am EDT

Men in medical suits work inside the AdImmune flu vaccine manufacturing facility in Taichung June 18, 2009. REUTERS/Nicky Loh

Men in medical suits work inside the AdImmune flu vaccine manufacturing facility in Taichung June 18, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Nicky Loh

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) will probably hold a media briefing on Monday to issue guidance about the need for a H1N1 influenza jab, a WHO spokeswoman said on Friday.

"The recommendations are still in the process of being developed," Fadela Chaib told a news briefing in Geneva, where the United Nations agency is based.

"The press conference will probably be on Monday," she later told Reuters.

Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research, would give a news briefing once the recommendations emerging from the closed-door WHO meeting on Tuesday are approved by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

The WHO raised its influenza pandemic alert to the highest level on June 11 in response to the worldwide spread of H1N1, a newly discovered virus strain commonly known as swine flu.

Vaccine makers such as Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Baxter, GlaxoSmithKline and Solvay are seeking WHO guidance about whether to ramp up production of jabs for the strain, to keep making seasonal flu vaccines, or to produce a combination.

The discovery of three isolated cases of H1N1 flu in Denmark, Japan and Hong Kong that resisted treatment with the anti-viral drug Tamiflu, made by Roche and Gilead, has raised interest in a jab to prevent infection.

The WHO said earlier this week that Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 flu does not appear to be spreading in a sustained or worrisome way. All patients with the resistant variety have recovered fully, and their viruses were sensitive to treatment with the other anti-viral recommended by the WHO, the inhaled drug Relenza made by Glaxo under license from Biota. (Reporting by Laura MacInnis and Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland)