May 28, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Could Be Closer

Health authorities said on Thursday that British scientists have produced a strain of swine flu H1N1 flu virus that could be used for large scale production of a vaccine as early as October.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said that the virus strain is being made available to the pharmaceutical industry and other flu laboratories, describing it as "a crucial step toward large scale production of a vaccine against swine flu."

About 13,000 people from at least 50 countries have confirmed to be infected with the H1N1 flu.  According to officially confirmed figures from the World Health Organization, the virus has killed 95 people.

The HPA said that Britain has confirmed 185 cases.

It also said that its National Institute produced the vaccine for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), who is one of several laboratories around the world belonging to a World Health Organization (WHO) network that is racing to produce a strain suitable for manufacturing vaccine.

Stephen Inglis, NIBSC director, said WHO network laboratories in the United States and Australia were "also making good progress and we expect there soon to be a number of possible strains to use for large scale manufacture of swine flu vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 8,500 cases were confirmed in the U.S., including 12 deaths and over 500 hospitalizations.


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