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Swine-flu vaccine found faster than expected

A vaccine against the A/H1N1 virus responsible for swine flu should be ready in the autumn, weeks ahead of expectations, Novartis announced on Friday.

The Swiss pharmaceutical concern said scientists had been able to speed up the process greatly by using cell-based technology instead of chicken eggs typically used to grow the necessary cultures.

“This advance has cut weeks off the time required to begin vaccine production,” Novartis said in a statement.

The company hopes to produce millions of doses a week starting in September or October. The vaccine must first go through clinical trials on ferrets and humans before regulators can approve its use.

The development comes one day after the World Health Organization declared a swine-flu pandemic. There are now nearly 30,000 confirmed infections worldwide in 74 countries, including Switzerland. Forty-four people have died from the influenza-A virus to date.

Other companies, including Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Solvay are also working on swine-flu vaccines. with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR