Swine Flu Vaccine Up for Testing

(Because TechPinas is a Technology News Blog and not just a Gadget blog, we would like to inform you that...)

"Novartis has successfully completed the production of the first batch of influenza A(H1N1) vaccine, weeks ahead of expectations,"

Yep! Swiss Pharmaceutical company, Novartis, has already developed a vaccine against the dreaded swine flu. This is after the US Government gave the company 289 million dollars to aid the development of a vaccine. Novartis is already working with France's Sanofi-Pasteur to produce doses for clinical testing in the coming weeks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that Swine flu has infected almost 30,000 people in 74 countries and claimed 145 lives since April 2009, when it was first detected in Mexico. On June 11, 2009, WHO raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the current worldwide spread of the influenza A (H1N1) virus. A Phase 6 designation is indicative that a global pandemic could be underway.

But what's up with H1N1, anyway?

Quoting Wikipedia:

The 2009 flu outbreak is due to a new strain of subtype H1N1 not previously reported in pigs. In late April, Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's director-general, declared a "public health emergency of international concern" under the rules of the WHO's new International Health Regulations when the first cases of the H1N1 virus were reported in the United States. Following the outbreak, on May 2, 2009, it was reported in pigs at a farm in Alberta, Canada, with a link to the outbreak in Mexico. The pigs are suspected to have caught this new strain of virus from a farm worker who recently returned from Mexico, then showed symptoms of an influenza-like illness. These are probable cases, pending confirmation by laboratory testing.

The new strain was initially described as an apparent reassortment of at least four strains of influenza A virus subtype H1N1, including one strain endemic in humans, one endemic in birds, and two endemic in swine. Subsequent analysis suggested it was a reassortment of just two strains, both found in swine. Although initial reports identified the new strain as swine influenza (i.e., a zoonosis originating in swine), its origin is unknown. Several countries took precautionary measures to reduce the chances for a global pandemic of the disease. The Swine flu has been compared to other similar types of influenza virus in terms of mortality "in the US it appears that for every 1000 people who get infected, about 40 people need admission to hospital and about one person dies".

Scary. Glad there's a vaccine against it now.

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