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WHO May Soon Order Global Production of Swine Flu Vaccine
Date:5/7/2009

Expert panel to meet, advise agency next week on wisdom of such a move

THURSDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- The World Health Organization could decide as early as next week to call for international production of an influenza A H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

The head of the agency's initiative for vaccine research told the Canadian Press that such a decision could force some vaccine manufacturers to make some lots that do not include a vaccine against influenza B viruses.

"I would be really, really very surprised that it would not be large-scale," Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny said Wednesday when asked whether widespread swine flu vaccine production would be recommended by the agency.

If so, a number of countries with pandemic vaccine contracts would probably activate their purchase orders, she said, triggering a major switch to production of a new vaccine.

The CP also reported that an expert panel will meet May 14 to review the available science on the swine flu and advise WHO Director General Margaret Chan on whether to call on vaccine manufacturers to make a vaccine to protect against the new H1N1 virus.

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday that while the large majority of U.S. cases of swine flu continue to be mild, those who are hospitalized with more severe disease appear to be atypically young.

The median age of hospitalized individuals with swine flu is 15, which is younger than occurs with regular seasonal flu, Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Wednesday news conference.

"We are seeing the same distribution in hospitalized patients as we are in milder cases in the community, and that's younger than what you would see in seasonal flu," Besser said. "In seasonal flu, you tend to see a predominance of burden of disease in the elderly and in the very young, and here we are seeing it mo
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