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Swine flu jab not ready before October

A vaccine against swine flu is not likely to be ready before the first wave of an expected pandemic hits, an expert has said.

This content was published on July 11, 2009 - 15:34

Claire-Anne Siegrist, president of the Federal Vaccination Commission, told a Saturday newspaper that the anti- H1N1 infection jab would be available in October at the earliest.

"It is not too late, but it's after the first pandemic flu wave which could occur in September," the Geneva professor told the French-speaking Le Temps.

The Swiss government has struck a deal with two international pharmaceutical companies for 13 million doses of vaccine to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. It expects up to 1.5 million people - a quarter of the work force - to be infected in the projected autumn pandemic.

The vaccine is now being made. But it still needed to be tested and then submitted for approval by the authorities, Siegrist said. Afterwards, a person would need two injections in a three to four-week period to be protected from the virus.

Siegrist said she expected the flu wave to come in the colder months and that at its high point, there could be around 400,000 people to be ill with the virus the same time.

According to the latest figures, 133 people have developed swine flu so far in Switzerland, mostly after trips to South and North America. In all, 12 have been infected within the country.

Last month the government also stocked up on antiviral medicines. It acquired 40,000 additional packages of Tamiflu from the Basel-based Roche company.

The World Health Organization in June declared the swine flu as unstoppable. Experts said they were surprised by the fast spread around globe.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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