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CDC Releases H1N1 Seed Strains To Vaccine Makers

At least one vaccine maker on Wednesday received H1N1 (swine flu) virus seed strains, a key ingredient for producing an H1N1 vaccine, the Canadian Press/Google.com reports. The seed strains, handed off by the CDC, will allow drug manufacturers to carry the development of an H1N1 vaccine to the next stage – testing the safety of the vaccine and determining how many doses may be necessary to offer full protection against the virus (Branswell, Canadian Press/Google.com, 5/27).

Sanofi Pasteur confirmed on Wednesday that the company has received seed stock from the CDC, the AP/Forbes reports. Earlier this week, the U.S. government placed an order with Sanofi Pasteur and four other companies to manufacture an H1N1 vaccine. Though Sanofi Pasteur estimates vaccine production will take about two weeks, AP/Forbes writes, “it will likely take months to make the first batches of the vaccine” (AP/Forbes, 5/27). WHO officials on Tuesday said they needed more time to monitor the H1N1 virus before issuing a final decision on whether vaccine makers should switch from the mass production of the seasonal flu vaccine to a H1N1 vaccine (Kaiser Global Health Policy Report, 5/27).

The Wall Street Journal examines how health officials and pandemic flu scientists are looking for clues as to whether H1N1 evolves into a more deadly virus or becomes resistant to current treatments as the Southern Hemisphere enters its flu season. “The CDC has shipped kits to influenza laboratories in more than 100 countries to allow them to test for the new H1N1 virus,” the newspaper writes.

“There are a lot of other conditions out there that have killed many more people in the last three weeks than this has,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said. “But this is not about what’s happening now. It’s about what could happen” (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 5/28).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.