European Union hopes to start vaccination in months
The European Union hopes to start administering its new swine flu vaccine on December 18. This is the official announcement. We’ve been waiting for that date for some time. Why? Well, the vaccine manufacturer, Merck, has postponed the actual introduction of the vaccine due to the inability to get the manufacturing facilities up and running at full capacity until the end of September.
Why that? Well, it seems that there are problems with the manufacture of the vaccine. If you remember the swine flu pandemic preparation periods in 2020, they were very short indeed. And why the pandemic outbreak- no one really believed there would be an outbreak! However, the reality happened, and manufacturing was stepped up to meet demand.
So why is the EU expecting a short introduction of the swine flu vaccine? It seems that the manufacturer is struggling to meet demand. Demand is outstripping supply. It is difficult to profit by selling vaccines when you cannot sell enough of them to make a profit. It seems that Merck believes that they can only manufacture as many rotavirus and chickenpox and rotavirus type 4 vaccines as they need.
If the manufacturer cannot produce enough of these vaccines to meet the demand that the EU expects to see in the coming months, then they will not be manufactured in sufficient quantities to make any real difference. In the USA, about nine months is the average time for children to be ready for a dose. This is one of the reasons why the FDA has determined that everyone should be immunized by the age of six months. It is also required that everyone obtain the first dose of immunization before attending kindergarten or elementary school.
The problem here is that it translates into huge demand for these products, especially now. There is so much capacity that a pharmaceutical company has to manufacture. In the USA, there are currently eight different types of flu vaccines. Too many vaccines! And, of course, each requires several months of storage after production.
In the EU, there are currently no drugs for the infection, although it is believed that there may be promising research being done on new types of treatments and possible cures for the disease. The fact is that there is likely to be a very limited amount of sales of rotavirus, the strain that causes the disease. There will be a very small amount of sales of the three types of vaccines. That’s because these are the vaccines that are responsible for most outbreaks. In addition, there may be a very limited amount of sales for the two vaccines designed to protect chickens and turkeys.
Not all EU countries are responsible for their own swine flu vaccination programs. That is why there are so few vaccines available in the region. In addition, there are countries outside the EU that depend on licensed suppliers for the same. For example, Hong Kong has licensed suppliers and the United Kingdom depends on Gluvax. Since viruses are transmissible between animals and people, the EU is very concerned about this aspect and has imposed strict restrictions on China’s exports.
Currently, the EU has used vaccines as a preventive tool for over ten years. However, a single type of flu has emerged. Since that occurred, the organization has been working to increase the number of vaccinated individuals. It will take years before the organization can say with certainty that it has eliminated all traces of the swine flu virus in the European Union. However, each country has stopped seasonal vaccination campaigns until the ban is lifted, which should occur at least a year later.