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Researchers at the University of Antwerp are currently comparing 4 potential vaccines for H1N1v, also known as swine flu or Mexican flu. 300 to 400 volunteers will be recruited for the tests. “There is a good chance that a Mexican flu vaccine is available early November”, expects vaccine expert prof. dr. Pierre van Damme, director of the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination (CEV), a department of the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO) at the University of Antwerp.
“We were contacted by a number of vaccine producers to test their vaccines as soon as they had a test version”, explains Van Damme. “The CEV can look back on more than 20 years of experience in the scientific evaluation of test vaccines for different producers. We have been cooperating with some of these vaccine companies for many years. Obviously, they do not want to lose time now. That is why the number of test centres has been limited.” Together with the University of Antwerp, the University of Ghent and some centres in Finland, France and Germany are involved in the testing.
Swine flu is spreading so rapidly across Britain that there could be 100,000 new cases a day by the end of next month, the health secretary, Andy Burnham, said today.
The UK would immediately move to the "treatment phase" of its plan to combat swine flu, meaning doctors would no longer test for the H1N1 virus and urge anyone with symptoms to stay at home, Burnham told the House of Commons.
The first swine flu vaccine would be made available from August, with 60m doses available by the end of the year, he added.
"We have reached the next stage in management of the disease," Burnham said. "The national focus will be on treating the increasing numbers affected by swine flu. We will move to this treatment phase across the UK with immediate effect."
“Most producers will have their test vaccines ready by the middle or end of August” says Van Damme. “But a vaccine can only be launched on the market when is has been tested on healthy volunteers. This procedure is also followed for other test vaccines. The vaccination of volunteers will take place in the course of August and September, because all test vaccines come with a vaccination scheme of 2 doses.”