The World Health Organisation has given Thailand the green light to use an advanced vaccine production technology to make flu vaccines for domestic and global use in the event of a pandemic.

Under the landmark agreement signed by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) and WHO in Geneva yesterday, the state-run drug maker will be allowed to use seed viruses developed by the Institute for Experimental Medicine in St Petersburg, Russia, to produce live attenuated vaccines.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by WHO director-general Margaret Chan, and Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai, who are attending the 62nd World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The Russian live attenuated influenza vaccine technology is seen as a very promising tool in controlling a potential pandemic because it allows for the production of 30 times more vaccine doses than the standard inactivated vaccine technology.

The GPO will be able to access the technology through a licence granted to the WHO for the benefit of developing countries by Nobilon (Schering-Plough) in January, the health body said.