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Biotech

Nationwide Shortage In Supply of Swine Flu Vaccine 579

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that as the number of swine flu cases grows to levels unprecedented for this time of year, health officials predict a shortfall in the supply of swine flu vaccine. Forty-three children have died from swine flu since August 30 — about the same number that usually die in an entire flu season.' These are very sobering statistics,' says Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, 'and unfortunately they are likely to increase.' Projections of the supply of swine flu vaccine have widely varied. During the summer, health officials said 120 million doses would be ready in October but later dropped the estimate to 40 million doses. Now officials expect only 28 million to 30 million doses, adding that the exact number is impossible to predict and could change daily as vaccine manufacturers report that production was behind schedule. 'Vaccine production for influenza is pretty complex,' says Schuchat explaining the delay, 'and the complex process this year is taking a bit longer than we had hoped.' Schuchat warned parents with sick children to be alert for signs that medical attention is required including not eating well, difficulties breathing, and turning blue or gray. A particularly important sign is when children start to get better, then have a relapse, usually a sign that pneumonia is developing, and immediate treatment should be sought."

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