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Just months after rushing to order enough swine-flu vaccine to protect their citizens, European governments are canceling orders and trying to sell or give away extra doses as they sit on a glut of the vaccine.
The main reason: European health officials decided that only one shot per person was needed, instead of the two originally planned. Low demand is also to blame. Many Europeans believe the pandemic has turned out to be fairly mild, and don't see a reason to get vaccinated. Some are also concerned that they will suffer side effects from the shots, despite assurances otherwise from global health officials. "The population is not running to get the vaccination," says Roland Jopp, a spokesman for Germany's health ministry.
Declining interest in the shots could be bad news for vaccine makers, particularly if countries demand their money back for supplies already delivered.
Companies may be able to sell the shots elsewhere, however. Most vaccine makers, including GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Sanofi-Aventis SA, Novartis AG and Baxter International Inc., have been expecting a large sales bump from H1N1 vaccine.
All three companies declined to comment on how cancellations might affect sales. (GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Sanofi-Aventis SA, Novartis AG and Baxter International Inc.)