In yellow fever war, WHO readies plan to stretch vaccine supply
* Expert committee to consider emergency one-fifth dose
* Need to vaccinate Kinshasa could trigger new approach
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) - The worst yellow fever outbreak in decades, which has killed 325 people in Angola and spread as far as China, has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to draw up plans to eke out vaccine supplies by using one-fifth of the normal dose.
Alejandro Costa, team leader for emergency vaccination and stockpiles, said an expert meeting would consider the plan next week, paving the way for the WHO to advise countries to shift to the lower dose on a emergency basis if necessary.
Fears of a wider outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease were fuelled this week by the confirmation of locally transmitted yellow fever in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A major outbreak in the city would leave healthcare authorities with little choice but to cut the dose per patient.
"If we have to vaccinate Kinshasa, that would be a trigger," Costa said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "We don't have enough vaccine. Kinshasa has a population of 12 million to 14 million people and we only have today around six million doses."
Concerns about limited vaccine supplies have been building for some time, with independent medics calling for low-dose use in an article The Lancet journal in April. Continuación...