Jul 21, 2009 04:48 PM | 2
The first vaccines against H1N1 in humans will be put to the test starting tomorrow. The Australia-based pharmaceutical company CSL, Ltd., will commence the trials in Adelaide by giving 240 healthy volunteers the shot, Bloomberg News reported today.
“The world will be watching to see the immunogenicity results of this first clinical trial,” the World Health Organization (WHO) director of vaccine research told Bloomberg. The crucial result she refers to is exactly how much antigen it will take to fend off the virus. And that amount, the report notes, will provide more concrete data about how many doses companies will be able to make this year. The WHO has recommended that when a vaccine does become available, healthcare workers be the first in line to receive it.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday approved the seasonal flu vaccine for this fall. It won’t protect against the H1N1 virus, the agency noted in a statement, but the traditional flu still kills about 36,000 people in the U.S. each year. The FDA noted that it “continues to work with manufacturers, international partners and other government agencies to facilitate the availability of a safe and effective vaccine against the 2009 H1N1 virus.” October has been offered as a goal to have the first courses of the vaccine syringe-ready in the U.S.
President Barack Obama warned earlier this month of the need to be vigilant for a resurgence of the virus in the early fall, as it has continued to spread through the summer. He has since authorized $1.825 billion in emergency funds for flu prevention and treatment.
Meantime, the WHO conceded in a statement last week that, “further spread of the pandemic, within affected countries and to new counties, is considered inevitable.” Given that and the “unprecedented speed” of the spread (covering the globe in six weeks rather than six months, as in past influenza pandemics), the agency has stopped tallying cases. As of first week of July—just 10 weeks since the U.S. first declared a public health emergency over “swine flu”—the WHO had reported more than 94,000 confirmed cases of the flu worldwide and at least 400 deaths.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto/svengine
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