Despite the fact that the swine flue has reached global pandemic levels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it has approved a vaccine for the 2009-2010 flu season that will not protect against H1N1 swine flu – the pandemic strain now most prevalent around the world. In the past week in Great Britain alone, there have been 55,000 new cases of swine flu.
According to its press release, “The FDA continues to work with manufacturers, international partners and other government agencies to facilitate the availability of a safe and effective vaccine against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.”
The release continues:
“Although this year’s seasonal vaccine is directed against other strains of influenza expected to be circulating and will not provide protection against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, it is still important for those Americans for whom it is recommended to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine. No vaccine is 100 percent effective against preventing disease, but vaccination is the best protection against influenza and can prevent many illnesses and deaths.
And, notes the FDA’s press office, “According to the CDC, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population develops influenza each year. More than 200,000 are hospitalized from its complications and about 36,000 people die.”
Speaking of the CDC, that agency last week put at 40,617 the number or “probable and confirmed” H1N1 cases in the U.S.
“Since the WHO declaration of a pandemic, the new H1N1 virus has continued to spread, with the number of countries reporting cases of novel H1N1 nearly doubling. The Southern Hemisphere’s regular influenza season has begun and countries there are reporting that the new H1N1 virus is spreading and causing illness along with regular seasonal influenza viruses. In the United States, significant novel H1N1 illness has continued into the summer, with localized and in some cases intense outbreaks occurring. The United States continues to report the largest number of novel H1N1 cases of any country worldwide, however, most people who have become ill have recovered without requiring medical treatment.
“Given ongoing novel H1N1 activity to date, CDC anticipates that there will be more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths associated with this pandemic in the United States over the summer and into the fall and winter. The novel H1N1 virus, in conjunction with regular seasonal influenza viruses, poses the potential to cause significant illness with associated hospitalizations and deaths during the U.S. influenza season.”