The World Health Organization is giving the green light to the development of a vaccine against the H1N1 swine flu virus, saying healthcare workers should be the first ones vaccinated.
The WHO says the influenza is “unstoppable” and is different from seasonal flu in that it affects young people, the severely obese, and adults, and strikes deep in the lungs. While the elderly are usually among the 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually around the world, with the swine flu variation, the elderly seem to have some extra immunity. Those born before 1920 are thought to carry some immunity to the 1918 pandemic that killed 50 to 100 million.
This pandemic of H1N1 appears to not just replicate in the nose but replicates better in the lungs.
Vaccine Makers Big Business
Flu vaccines are being developed by Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Baxter, Schering-Plough Nobilon, Glaxo Smith Kline, Solvay, CSL, and AstraZeneca MedImmune.
The federal government will spend $884 million to purchase more ingredients to make vaccines. The money will go to drug makers Sanofi Aventis ($61.4 million), GlaxoSmithKline ($71.4 million), Novartis ($364 million for vaccine, $343 for adjuvant), and AstraZeneca unit MedImmune ($61 million for live virus nasal spray) under their existing contracts, according to Health and Human Services (HHS).
HHS has committed $649 million and $283 million to buy vaccines and adjuvants, that is ingredients that help boost the immune system.
The WHO is recommending that every country receive the vaccines. So far at least one million have been infection and more than 400 killed.
Expect a vaccine campaign to be launched in the U.S. and it is still recommended that people receive their normal seasonal flu shots as H1N1 will be offered separately.
In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) moved the worldwide swine flu pandemic up to a Phase 6, which describes a full-scale pandemic. Letters were sent to member countries today warning them that the novel H1N1 virus alert is now at its highest level. #