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Swine Flu Vaccine Still Months Away
Date:4/30/2009

Search for correct formulation, egg-based production system are biggest challenges, experts say

THURSDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- In the face of a possible swine flu pandemic, U.S. health officials are already collecting information and ingredients with an eye to creating a swine flu vaccine.

And even though experts say there's no guarantee such a shot -- which would take months to develop -- would work, many agree it's the logical next step.

There are now 91 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States, spread across 10 states, with the first confirmed death -- a 23-month-old child from Mexico who'd been taken to Texas for medical treatment -- reported on Wednesday.

That death notwithstanding, officials say most U.S. cases of the swine flu in humans are mild, and patients quickly recover. However, they do expect more fatalities as the outbreak progresses.

"To start working on a vaccine now, before this has really moved anywhere near pandemic level, is the prudent thing to do," said Dr. Lawrence Stanberry, chair of pediatrics at Columbia University and New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in New York City. "If a pandemic really develops, it's an event that generally circles the globe over months. It doesn't just happen in one season. It can extend to a second season and, with each wave, you get an amplification. More people are infected, and it spreads more."

"Most flu people will tell you that vaccines are the way to prevent and control flu," agreed John Quarles, professor and head of microbial and molecular pathogenesis at Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station. While such a shot isn't ready yet, "it probably would be helpful six months from now," he said.

That's because any flu vaccine takes months to prepare and deliver to the public.

The seasonal flu vaccine, likely the model for the production of a swine flu vaccine, ta
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