Will the swine flu vaccine be ready in time?
Amid reports that suggest that millions of Americans could be “hospitalized” in the coming flu season due to the convergence of swine flu and more traditional influenzas — some bad news.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swine flu vaccine won’t be available to anyone in America until the middle (or end) of October, probably too late for the earliest onset of swine flu and more traditional flu cases.
In fact, news today suggests that President Barack Obama’s science advisers are begging the President and his cabinet to act now to ensure that H1N1 vaccines are available weeks before projections suggest. The new head of the CDC in America has responded to the President’s advisers saying that regardless what actions the President takes, swine flu vaccines will be unavailable until the already announced time — mid October. All this is playing out against reports that the swine flu will coincide with other influenza strains, setting off forecasts for the worst flu season in decades.
Though the scientists responsible for creating the H1N1 vaccine are not going to be able to deliver in a manner that doctors and other researchers want, they are still rushing through their work, raising fears among many doctors that the kind of imperfect testing necessary to rush a vaccine through will have a negative impact on the eventual drug. These imperfect tests mean that the creators of the vaccine won’t know enough about the drug to properly dose and vaccinate us. Already, the rush to create a vaccine has slowed attempts to take stock of H1n1 — precise numbers on how many people will probably be infected are impossible to come up with thanks to concentration on the vaccine rather than the virus itself.
So swine flu is the “number one” priority for the CDC — just not the right kind of priority.
Doctors willing to speak out against the CDC’s practices suggest that the vaccine should be available by the middle of September. These same medical experts say that the government should be taking advantage of the pandemic H1N1 to improve the overall surveillance of influenza, using the swine flu outbreak to improve our practices and to prevent future pandemics.
The five companies who are currently making swine flu vaccine for the U.S. market (AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit, CSL Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and Sanofi-Aventis SA) are running tests to determine if people will need one or multiple doses of that vaccine in order to be fully protected.