Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vaccine for swine flu may be unsafe warns WHO:
Mark Prigg, Science and Technology Correspondent, 27.07.09
Plans to fast-track the swine flu vaccine in Britain came under fire from World Health Organisation chiefs today.

The Department of Health plans to make the vaccine available at least two months earlier than in America.

More than 132million doses have been ordered with the first batch due to arrive next month.

However, Dr Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's flu chief, today warned about the potential dangers of the untested vaccine: "There are certain areas where you simply do not try to make any economies. One of the things which cannot be compromised is the safety of vaccines."

The European Medicines Agency, the drug regulatory body for the EU, is accelerating the approval process for the vaccine, allowing firms to bypass large-scale human trials and instead test a vaccine based on bird flu.

Countries including Britain, Greece, France and Sweden plan to start using it as soon as it is cleared.

The Department of Health said it was "extremely irresponsible" to suggest Britain would use an unsafe vaccine. A spokesman said: "Over 40,000 doses of the vaccine which the swine flu vaccines are based on have been given without any safety concerns."

The plan comes amid growing public concern over the outbreak.

A cruise ship packed with 160 British tourists and hit by swine flu was briefly "impounded" by Italian authorities.The Ruby Princess, carrying 3,393 passengers and 1,196 crew, docked in Venice and was surrounded by coastguards yesterday. After a medical examination passengers, except seven confirmed cases of H1N1, were allowed off the boat.

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