Advanced supply contracts to provide the vaccine for a possible flu pandemic were today awarded by the Department of Health to pharmaceutical company GSK and Baxter Healthcare.
The contracts, worth ?155.4 million over four years, are part of the Government’s continued work to prepare for and reduce the impact of a possible flu pandemic. Under these contracts GSK and Baxter are committed to supply a pandemic influenza vaccine as soon as the pandemic strain is identified and made available by the World Health Organisation.
Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said:
“These contracts mean the UK is on the front-foot if a flu pandemic occurs and are the latest steps towards ensuring we are as fully prepared as possible. We take the potential threat posed by pandemic flu very seriously and as the WHO has recognised, the UK is among the best prepared countries in the world.
“With GSK and Baxter already committed to produce a tailored vaccine for the NHS as soon as the pandemic is identified, we are confident that we are putting in place another important component of our preparation for a flu pandemic”
Influenza pandemics are caused when a new flu virus emerges to which people have no immunity. A vaccine against the exact strain will need to be made at the time the new virus emerges and when the World Health Organisation recommends a switch from manufacture of seasonal vaccines to production of vaccines against the new pandemic strain. There will be a time lag of some months before vaccine becomes available because the vaccine production process is complex.