Swine flu vaccine a step closer thanks to South Mimms scientists
SCIENTISTS at a medical research facility near Potters Bar have taken a significant step towards finding a vaccine for swine flu, the Government has announced. Health Secretary Alan Johnson broke the news after a visit to
SCIENTISTS at a medical research facility near Potters Bar have taken a "significant step" towards finding a vaccine for swine flu, the Government has announced.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson broke the news after a visit to the Health Protection Agency's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), in South Mimms, on Friday.
During his tour of the Blanche Lane facility, he learned researchers had cracked the genetic code of the virus, allowing work to find a vaccine to begin.
Mass production of this vaccine can then commence, hopefully within months.
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Speaking after his visit, Mr Johnson said: "A significant step towards protecting the world's health against swine flu has been taken.
"The speed with which vaccine prototypes can be created to combat potential pandemics is testimony to the dedication and world-class expertise of Health Protection Agency researchers."
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He added: "We have been preparing for the possibility of a pandemic for some time.
"We now look to the vaccine industry to produce the required quantities of vaccine as quickly as possible."
Professor Maria Zambon, for the Health Protection Agency, said: "We are continuing to learn more and more each day about swine flu.
"The pure sample of virus we have isolated, together with its genetic fingerprint, will be important resources as scientific organisations join forces on the development of an effective vaccine."
The swine flu outbreak began in Mexico in April and has since spread to 23 countries across the world, including the UK, Spain, Israel, Panama, Japan and New Zealand.
However, fatalities from the disease have been confirmed in just four countries, namely Mexico, the US, Canada and Costa Rica.
At the time of going to print, 39 cases had been identified in the UK.