H1N1 vaccine produced
PANAMA. Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis AG said Friday it has successfully produced a first batch of swine flu vaccine weeks ahe...
PANAMA. Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis AG said Friday it has successfully produced a first batch of swine flu vaccine weeks ahead of expectations, as Panamanian health authorities offer free seasonal flu vaccines.
The swine flu vaccine was made in cells, rather than grown in eggs as is usually the case with vaccines, the company said.
The announcement comes a day after the World Health Organization declared swine flu, a pandemic. The move indicates that a global outbreak is under way. WHO says drug makers will likely have vaccines approved and ready for sale after September.
Novartis said it would use the first batch of vaccine for pre-clinical evaluation and testing. It is also being considered for clinical trials.
The vaccine was produced at a Novartis plant in Marburg, Germany. Novartis said the facility could potentially produce millions of doses of vaccine a week.
A second plant is being built in Holly Springs, North Carolina, the company said.
Novartis said more than 30 governments have requested vaccine supplies, including the US Department of Health and Human Service, which placed a $289 million order in May.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry (MINSA) will be holding today Saturday and tomorrow a massive vaccination campaign, offering free seasonal influenza vaccination to children under 5 and adults over 50, and the pneumococcus vaccine to people over 60.
The General coordinator of MINSA’s immunization program, Itzel De Hewitt, said vaccination will be offered from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. both days.
According to Hewitt, the campaign hopes to prevent seasonal influenza in vulnerable groups, adding that they will also be available for people with chronic diseases.
Among the vaccination points in the metropolitan area are: La Doña Mall, el Machetazo in Tocumen, el Cruce in Las Mañanitas, Los Pueblos Mall, the Felipillo health center, the Parque Lefevre health policenter, the Dorado Mall, the Albrook bus terminal, the Super 99 in Rio Abajo, Kiwanis gymnasium in El Marañon, and the Veracruz, Taboga, and Pedregal health centers.
Vaccination will also be offered in the Rey supermarket in Vista Alegre, the Xtra supermarket in Arraijan, the Feuillet Park in La Chorrera, and the Rey superarket in Coronado.