Swine flu science update: 31 July 2009
The first trials of swine flu — influenza A(H1N1) — vaccines are expected to begin over the next few weeks and the first vaccine should be available in the United States by September.
Five trials testing two vaccines from Sanofi Pasteur and CSL Biotherapies will be run on thousands of healthy people at centres across the country. Two additional trials will test vaccines with adjuvants — additions to vaccine formulations intended to boost immune response.
Initial studies will look at the amount of active ingredient and number of doses needed. Researchers will also investigate co-administration of A(H1N1) vaccine with seasonal flu vaccine.
Pierre van Damme, director of the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination at the University of Antwerp, told SciDev.Net that four manufacturers had sent vaccine for testing. He said the university will test two unnamed vaccines on 300–400 people, with each given two doses of vaccine.
"There are certain areas where you can make economies, perhaps, but certain areas where you simply do not," Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's flu chief, told the Associated Press.
"If [regulatory authorities] took all the time that was necessary to make sure there are no side effects, ironically, in the effort to save a few lives, many lives could be lost," said Leonard Marcus, a public health expert at Harvard University.
Countries looking to save lives in the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic should give young people antivirals ahead of the elderly, according to Italian research published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases. The researchers from the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, Italy, used a mathematical model to deduce how to save the most lives using limited drugs supply.
Celia Alpuche, head of the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference in Mexico City, said the baby from San Luis Potosí, north-central Mexico, was probably infected on 24 February, making her the earliest case yet detected.