Swine flu latest: UK signs pre-pandemic vaccine deal
Friday, 15 May 2009 12:33
[Britain signs pre-pandemic vaccine deal for swine flu virus]
Britain signs pre-pandemic vaccine deal for swine flu virus
Britain has signed a pre-pandemic vaccine deal for the swine flu virus, the Department of Health has said.
More than 90 million doses of pre-pandemic H1N1 virus have been bought before the event of a pandemic being declared.
Production of the pre-pandemic vaccine is to begin as soon as possible, but it could take up to six months for the first batches to be delivered.
Health secretary Alan Johnson said the deal, with GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter, would not affect the country's supply of seasonal flu vaccine.
He explained that the UK wanted enough vaccines to protect the country's most people before any eventual pandemic arrived.
"Scientists tell us that as yet we don't know enough about this novel strain, or whether it's likely to mutate, but that this virus has the potential to become a pandemic and we can't predict how serious that would be," he said.
"We have an opportunity to secure vaccine in advance of a pandemic wave."
Mr Johnson added that enough pre-pandemic vaccines to protect at least half the population from swine flu would be available by December.
More than 7,500 cases of swine flu have been confirmed worldwide, 78 of which are in the UK.
The virus has killed 65 people, with most of the victims in Mexico where the outbreak occurred.