But it's still not certain that a broad-based immunization program will be needed
THURSDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- A vaccine for the H1N1 swine flu virus could be ready in October, if research and testing proceed on pace this summer, a leading U.S. health official said Thursday.
Candidate viruses have been shipped to vaccine manufacturers. But federal officials will have to monitor the safety and effectiveness of any vaccines produced, before full-scale production could begin, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interim deputy director for science and public health program, said during an afternoon press conference.
"If everything went really well it would not be until the fall before a vaccine would become available. We are saying at this point not before October," Schuchat said.
It's still not clear whether a swine flu vaccine is needed, Schuchat said. Any decision to move forward would be based on several factors, including the severity and spread of the virus and whether there's a safe and effective vaccine, she said.
So far, infections with the H1N1 swine flu virus continue to be mild and recovery is fairly quick, as is the case with seasonal flu, officials said. On Thursday, the CDC was reporting a total of 8,585 cases in 48 states, including 12 deaths. Testing has found that the virus remains susceptible to two common antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, according to the CDC.
Schuchat said the newly identified H1N1 virus continues to behave much like seasonal H1N1 viruses, which may partly explain why this flu strain affects more younger people. "Seasonal H1N1 often causes more disease in younger people, compared with the other strains that can be more common in older people," she said.
Also, when seasonal H1N1 flu strains dominate there are fewer deaths than when H3N2 flu strains dominate, Schuchat said.
"There will be d
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