One of the world’s leading drug firms says it has managed to produce the vaccine for Influenza A weeks ahead of schedule as the first pandemic in more than 40 years is declared.
Novartis says trials will start in July and it expects to start producing the vaccine by the autumn. It comes a day after the World Health Organisation raised its flu alert to 6, the highest on the scale. While the alert level refers to the spread and not the virulence of the virus, the WHO has nevertheless warned that it could still change into a more deadly form. The virus has so far been detected in at least 74 countries. Its widespread presence in Australia, which means it is entrenched in at least another region besides North America, was one of the key triggers for moving to phase 6. The WHO has reiterated its advice to members not to close borders or impose travel restrictions to halt the movement of people, goods and services, a call echoed by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.