Saturday, June 03, 2006

Vaccine vaporware?

There is no effective vaccine for H5N1 at the moment but there is a lot of activity. Whoever makes a vaccine will have a ready market if there is an outbreak and in a threatened pandemic, with production capacity inadequate to meet global demand, there will be room for more than one producer.

One of the first to announce it was well on the way to a practical vaccine was Hungary, whose partnership with a small vaccine developer, Omniverst, was touted as one of the first out of the gate late last year. Both the health minister and Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany publicly took the vaccine and predicted Hungary would be able to protect its citizens against any pandemic. That was then.

Little has been heard since, according to a Bloomberg story reported in the Hungarian press. There have been no scientific publications and no one has ordered the vaccine from Omniverst. A large European pharmaceutical company looked at the technology and decided to proceed on its own. No regulatory approval has been applled for.
When contacted by Nepszabadsag, one of Omninvest's leaders, Tamas Laczko said that the Hungarian authorities had registered the vaccine and the company was in the process preparing the documentation necessary for European regulatory approval. The vaccine will only be deployed by the health authorities if there is an epidemic, he said. Therefore there is no urgency to get the European registration, which is costly for a small company like Omninvest, he added. (MTI)
No urgency. Of course not.