09/21/2009, 00.00
ASIA

The influenza A virus has not mutated, vaccine should to be ready soon

The World Health Organisation tries to be reassuring, saying the virus has not mutated. It expects three billion doses of vaccine to be available in a few months time. It still calls for high levels of alert.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The A-H1N1 flu virus has not mutated and flu vaccine development is on track.  World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun released encouraging news today at a regional WHO meeting in Hong Kong. She said that lab results indicate that the virus has not mutated since April. She warned, however, that vigilance should not be relaxed because it could mutate at any moment.

Vaccine development “is on track,” she explained. “Worldwide there are about 25 companies making vaccines” and “they are gradually coming out with their production.”

“Some developing countries are also moving in developing their own vaccines and clearly China is one of these examples,” she added.

One of the problems with the new influenza has been the lack of a specific vaccine, something that increases the danger of a pandemic.

Ms Chan said she expected companies around the world to produce some three billion doses of vaccines within the coming year.

WHO expects an outbreak of swine flu in the northern hemisphere this winter, especially in December.

High-risk patients, such as the elderly, pregnant women, overweight people or those with asthma are more vulnerable to the virus. The problem also depends on the high risk of contagion.

In his address to the meeting, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said that the former British Crown colony had recorded so far 22,054 known cases and 15 deaths.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia is the most affected country with 171 deaths.

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