May 26, 2009 / 3:43 PM / 10 years ago

WHO says not ready to give pandemic vaccine guidance

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization wants to keep monitoring the spread of H1N1 flu before issuing guidance on the production of pandemic flu vaccines, a top WHO official said Tuesday.

“We don’t want to make recommendations too early because we are on a daily basis monitoring how the situation is evolving,” acting WHO assistant director-general Keiji Fukuda told a news briefing.

The U.N. agency is convening experts in the next weeks to help revamp its six-point pandemic alert scale so it reflects how severe the circulating virus is and not just the way it is spreading, he said.

For now, Fukuda said the WHO was keeping its alert at Phase 5 which means a pandemic is “imminent.” If other countries have large-scale and sustained outbreaks, such as those seen in Mexico and the United States, he said: “That in and of itself could well be enough to take us up to pandemic Phase 6.”

Reporting by Laura MacInnis and Farah Master; editing by Stephanie Nebehay

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