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Deal signed for massive supply of swine flu vaccine

DH agrees supplies of 90 million doses of H1N1 vaccine

OnMedica staff

Monday, 18 May 2009

The government has agreed a deal with vaccine manufacturers to secure supplies of up to 90 million doses of pre-pandemic H1N1 vaccine for swine flu before a pandemic begins.

The Department of Health announced the deal, signed between Health Secretary Alan Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Baxter, which will allow production of pre-pandemic vaccine to begin as soon as possible.

The DH said the agreements could provide enough vaccine to protect the most vulnerable people before a pandemic was likely to arrive, without affecting the supply of seasonal flu vaccine.

The arrangements mean that, by December, enough pre-pandemic vaccine to protect frontline health and social care workers, older people, those in clinical risk groups, and children with some additional flexibility could be secured.

Currently, there are 101 confirmed cases of H1NI in the UK and 8,480 cases worldwide throughout 39 countries, including 72 deaths.

Mr Johnson said: “The localised cases of swine flu found in the UK have so far been mild, and our strategy of containing the spread with anti-virals appears to have been effective in reducing symptoms and preventing further spread of infection.

“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.

“We have an opportunity to secure vaccine in advance of a pandemic wave. We have Advance Purchase Agreements to provide vaccine for the entire UK population, which will take effect when Phase 6 pandemic is declared. It will then take over a year for all the vaccine necessary to be provided.

“These additional arrangements provide the opportunity by December this year to have enough pre-pandemic vaccine to protect at least half of the population from swine flu. This will however depend on when and if the manufacturers switched from seasonal to H1N1 pandemic specific vaccine production at a time after Phase 6 is declared by the World Health Organization, as this will take precedence over pre-pandemic contracts."

If a pandemic is declared Advance Supply Agreements, signed by the Government with GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter in July 2007, will enable the UK to purchase up to 132 million doses of pandemic specific vaccine, when it becomes available.

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