Aug. 17, 2009— -- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials Mondaysaid they had slashed their estimate of how many swine fluvaccine doses will be available for the start of a massvaccination campaign in the fall.
Citing delays in manufacturing and packaging the vaccines,the Department of Health and Human Services said only 45million doses of the new H1N1 vaccine would be on hand inmid-October, instead of the 120 million previously forecast.
The revised delivery guidelines would push back a U.S.government estimate that all those requiring vaccinations beimmunized by the first week of December.
"Our latest information from the manufacturers tells usthat we now expect to have about 45 million doses by October 15with approximately 20 million doses being delivered each weekThereafter, up to the 195 million doses that we havepurchased," Bill Hall, an HHS spokesman, said in an e-mail.
The Geneva-based World Health Organisation declared H1N1 afull pandemic in June, and the virus has spread to about 180countries. World health officials have said people shouldreceive the two-dose swine flu vaccination as well as thesingle-dose seasonal flu vaccination this year.
In July, U.S. advisers said about half the U.S. population,or 160 million people, should get vaccinated against the newpandemic influenza strain, with pregnant women and healthcareworkers at the front of the line.
Clinical trials of the H1N1 vaccine are under way, and fivecompanies are making it for the U.S. market -- AstraZeneca'sMedImmune unit, CSL, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG andSanofi-Aventis SA.
Dr. Robin Robinson of HHS said in a teleconference onFriday that Australia's CSL Biotherapiesmust produce swine fluvaccine first for Australia, where it is winter and both swineflu and seasonal flu are circulating, according to a newsservice run by the Center for Infectious Disease Research &Policy at the University of Minnesota.
In the National Biodefense Safety Board teleconference,Robinson also said one of the companies due to make the newvaccine was still struggling to finish its production ofseasonal flu vaccine.
The news service also quoted Robinson as saying 84 millioncourses of antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, which are usedto treat swine flu, are in federal and state stockpiles andthree million additional doses are expected soon.
He projected that a total of 100 million treatment courseswill be available in the autumn.
The United States would need 600 million doses to immunizeall those needing the H1N1 vaccine, as people will need twodoses for full immunity.
Baxter International Incsaid earlier this month itcompleted its first commercial batches of H1N1 vaccine madeusing a cell culture process designed to be faster thantraditional vaccine production methods that use chicken eggs.
Baxter has supply contracts with five countries, includingBritain, Ireland and New Zealand, but not the United States.
(Editing by Paul Simao)