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U.S. Progressing on Swine Flu Vaccine
Date:5/23/2009

If viable, ingredients could be sent to manufacturers by month's end, CDC says

SATURDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- A viable H1N1 swine flu vaccine got a bit nearer Friday, with U.S. health officials saying they had two promising candidate viruses for use in such a shot.

"Today CDC received, from one institution, a candidate vaccine virus," Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interim deputy director for science and public health program, said during a news conference.

The strain was created by "combining the genes of the novel H1N1 virus with other parts from other viruses," Schuchat explained. This type of hybrid virus will grow more easily in eggs -- an essential part of the vaccine production process.

The CDC, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has also created a second candidate virus using reverse genetics, Schuchat said.

The CDC is testing both viruses to make sure they can stimulate an optimal immune response, Schuchat said. "After that work is done suitable viruses will be sent out to manufacturers. We expect by the end of May that will happen," she said.

Also Friday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the federal government was allocating $1 billion to the search for a swine flu vaccine, the Associated Press reported. The funding is aimed at pilot testing of a vaccine and the setting up of a "pre-pandemic" stockpile that HHS said would cover at least 20 million people, including health-care workers and people at high risk for complications from the illness.

In related news, a study released on Friday suggests that many of the genes that make up the new H1N1 swine flu virus have been circulating undetected in pigs for more than a decade.

Scientists at the CDC and elsewhere sequenced the genomes of dozens of samples of the swine flu strain and found it is distantly
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