600 Million Doses
In June, the World Health Organization
declared the swine flu (H1N1) a global pandemic after it was found to have impacted more than 70 countries with more than 70,000 cases. Almost 28,000 are in the U.S.
With 100,000 new cases in the United Kingdom (UK) predicted daily, health ministers there believe the swine flu cannot be contained and are moving into the treatment phase.
The BBC is reporting that anti-flu drugs will no longer be given to close contacts of those people infected.
Any many people reporting symptoms will no longer be tested to confirm swine flu. Instead they will be told to stay home and have a friend bring their voucher to the pharmacy to receive an anti-viral drug.
The UK had its first swine flu death two weeks ago of a 38-year-old woman who had recently given birth prematurely.
In the U.S. about 140 people have died since the pandemic began.
115 million doses of seasonal flu vaccines are distributed in the U.S. every year. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts the U.S. may need about 600 million swine flu vaccine doses to stop the spread of the communicable virus.
With a mass inoculation come huge questions – who will administer the vaccines and pay for them, and how will the possible side effects be tracked? Plans are currently underway to launch a major vaccination campaign.
The vaccine volume is enough for two doses for each of the 300 million residents of the United States, just in case two doses are required.
Ferrets are being used in flu research and the CDC suggests that the swine flu seems to spread less easily than the season flu, though the symptoms appear more severe.
One vaccine maker, Protein Sciences Corp, is making about 100,000 doses per week using a new vaccine technology, an improvement on the traditional method of growing a modified virus in an egg medium. The new technology involves injecting a protein of the swine flu virus into another virus called a baculovirus, which then multiplies quickly inside insect cells.
Novartis is producing the first batch of H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine, which should be available in Europe in about two months after it refines its product. And the race is on as drug maker, Sanofi Pasteur plans to have them ready for clinical trials in humans this summer. Supplies could be made available in four to six months in the U.S., CNN reports.
Update no. 56 from the WHO shows that the percentage of patients who die is not the same for all countries. In Mexico 1.4 percent of patients stricken die, while in Columbia, the percentage is 2.3, compared to 1.4 percent in Mexico and 1.5 percent in Argentina. #