Trinidad expects swine flu vaccine in October

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, June 29, 2009 – Trinidad and Tobago could have a vaccine for the H1N1 virus in another four months, Health Minister Jerry Narace has revealed.

He said the offer to supply the vaccine had been made by a number of pharmaceutical companies, but he declined to identify them.

“The Ministry of Health has been approached by more than one company offering the possibility of an immunisation vaccine of Influenza A/H1N1 for all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago by October 2009. In the interim we will continue to monitor and ramp up activities as required,” Narace revealed at the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association’s 15th Medical Research Conference yesterday.

Earlier this month, after Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis AG said it had successfully produced a first batch of swine flu vaccine weeks ahead of expectations, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that vaccines would likely be approved and ready for sale after September.

Other pharmaceutical companies say they could release the vaccine soon as well, including an American company, Protein Sciences Corporation Human, which won a US$35-million government contract to develop an influenza vaccine, and others in Australia and China.

A total of 54 people have been confirmed with the swine flu in Trinidad and Tobago. Globally, almost 60,000 have been infected, according to the WHO, with 263 dying from the virus.