The European Commission urged EU nations to share the swine flu vaccine between the 'haves' and 'have nots' both within Europe and in the developing world, to help fight the pandemic.
The EU executive arm encouraged cross-border sharing and sale of the vaccine as some European countries have ordered enough to vaccinate their entire population while people in some other EU nations are not yet as well provided for.
AdvertisementIf one country has full vaccine coverage and "a country next to it says (it can only provide for) 10 percent because it cannot afford any more... a lot of difficulties will arise from this," Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told reporters in Strasbourg, France.
Her department, in a statement issued ahead of an expected surge of European cases as the northern winter approaches, also urged that "the possibility of reserving for developing countries a share of vaccines ordered by member states should be seriously considered".
"The European Union has a major role to play having the largest share of relevant vaccine production capacity and the greatest share of advance purchase agreements," for the vaccine which is not yet approved or available, the document continued.
Any funding necessary to help poor nations obtain the vaccines could be found in existing aid and development finding, the EU health directorate said.
Clinical trials have shown experimental vaccines against the potentially deadly A(H1N1) swine flu to be effective with one single shot, leaving the possibility that countries who have booked the vaccine from pharmaceutical companies expecting that two doses may be required will have surplus stock.
The EU commissioner said she hoped to get a scientific opinion on vaccines from the European Medicines Agency by the end of the month.
"We need to remain vigilant and continue to coordinate our preparations to respond to the pandemic in the months ahead," Vassiliou said in a statement.
At least 3,205 people have died of the disease since it was uncovered in Mexico in April, according to the World Health Organization's latest tally.
So far the virus has hit one percent of the European Union's population of around half a billion people, with most cases no more serious than regular seasonal flu.
That figure could reach up to 30 percent, according to experts.