A Swiss drugmaker says it has developed a vaccine for H1N1 swine flu
that may work with just one dose, a finding that could help boost
global vaccine supplies.
Novartis said Thursday the vaccine has been tested on 100 people in Britain aged 18 to 50. It said participants who took two doses had a better immune response to swine flu, but one dose also appeared to provide adequate protection.
Experts previously believed that two doses of vaccine would be necessary to protect against the virus, reducing the number of people around the world who could be covered by the global swine flu vaccine supply.
Earlier, China said it approved a homegrown swine flu vaccine that is proven to be effective after just one dose. The vaccine's developer, Sinovac, said it would focus on distributing the doses domestically before considering the international market.
The Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, said Thursday the swine flu virus has not changed to become more deadly. He said although the virus will affect many people in the United States in the coming months, he said most people will not become seriously ill.
Frieden also said it is unusual that the flu season in the United States has continued throughout the summer months. He said there is already a larger number of cases than usual for this time of year.
Pharmaceutical makers around the world have been racing to develop vaccines before an expected surge in swine flu cases in the coming months as the northern hemisphere enters its autumn and winter seasons.
The World Health Organization declared swine flu to be a pandemic in June. It says at least 2,185 people have died worldwide after contracting the virus.
One of the latest victims is a Danish man who worked as a driver in Norway.