UCL News


Official plans to fight pandemic 'rely too heavily on ineffective drug'

17 February 2006

The Government's plans to deal with an influenza pandemic rely too heavily on a drug that may be ineffective, according to a former health adviser.

Professor Peter Dunnill [UCL Biochemical Engineering] attacked the plans as unrealistic.

He said the Department of Health had placed too much emphasis on stockpiling Tamiflu, which faces problems with virus resistance and distribution, and not enough emphasis on making enough vaccine to protect the population from the H5N1 strain. The DoH has also wildly overestimated the amount of bird flu vaccine that could be made to protect the public, according to the director of the UCL Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering. …

"The Department of Health is not being honest with us," Professor Dunnill said. "These estimates of how much vaccine will be available have no foundation in fact."

As well as focusing on bird flu vaccine production, he said the Government should advise people to stockpile food, medicines, water and other supplies. Although the Government's primary ex-penditure has been on Tamiflu, Professor Dunnill said "there is now a good deal of doubt about how valuable this drug will be". He said it was "very worrying" that resistance had already been noted.

Roger Highfield and Richard Alleyne, 'The Daily Telegraph', 17 February 2006