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Saying the new H1N1 virus is "unstoppable", the World Health Organization gave drug makers a full go-ahead to manufacture vaccines against the pandemic influenza strain on Monday and said healthcare workers should be the first to get one.
Every country will need to vaccinate citizens against the swine flu virus and must choose who else would get priority after nurses, doctors and technicians, said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research.
Kieny said WHO would also work to get better viruses for companies from which to make vaccines. She said the strains that had been distributed did not grow very well in chicken eggs -- used to make all flu vaccines.
One exception -- AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit makes a live virus vaccine that is squirted up the nose and it is easier to produce, Kieny said.
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The U.S. federal government will spend $884 million to buy more ingredients to make an H1N1 swine flu vaccine, the Health and Human Services department said on Monday.
Drug makers Sanofi Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and AstraZeneca unit MedImmune will get the money under existing contracts, HHS said in a statement.
SWINE flu infections have spiked in Australia this week, with younger, healthy people being struck down amid warnings the situation will probably get worse over the next two months.
Experts have warned a mass vaccination is needed. The Federal Government has ordered 21 million shots of a vaccine, but it will not be available until after the traditional end of the flu season.
The number of confirmed cases in Australia was approaching 10,000 today. There were around 3000 new cases detected in the last week, after just over 6000 were diagnosed in the first months of the swine flu scare.
Computer modelling by University of Western Australia pandemic experts revealed that unless there was a widespread vaccination program, 27 per cent of the population would get swine flu.