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Sweden prepares for swine flu pandemic

Published: 30 Apr 2009 10:32 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Apr 2009 10:32 GMT+02:00

Sweden is preparing for the onset of a swine flu pandemic after the WHO raised the warning level to phase five. Although no cases have yet been confirmed in Sweden the government has moved to secure vaccines.

The announcement by the WHO means that the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) will go through its pandemic planning and ensure that everything works efficiently.

"It also means that we have overarching coordination and information work to conduct with other organs of society, partly healthcare services and the Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet, SMI), and partly to ensure that other operations which have to continue functioning in the event of a pandemic, do so," said Anders Tegnell at the board to news agency TT.

Tegnell confirmed that existing vaccine contracts stipulate that manufacture will commence without delay if the WHO declares a pandemic.

But manufacturers and countries ordering the vaccines can negotiate to bring forward manufacture.

"This type of discussion is already under way, but will no doubt intensify if this becomes a reality," Tegnell said.

Strategies for how the medicines can be distributed across the country are also under review.

"The firms that are contracted to keep the stocks, divide them up and transport them need also to be informed that this could become serious within a relatively short space of time," said Anders Tegnell.

SMI is continuing its work as normal.

"We are already working according to our plans for phase five with monitoring and diagnosis. We can not really do any more than we are currently doing. As it has been going on for such a long time in Mexico and has spread as far as it has we realized that this was something that would be tough to arrest," said Annika Linde at SMI.

No cases of the influenza have yet been confirmed in Sweden. SMI receives new samples continually, up to 20 in the last day.

It is unknown how many Swedes have been in Mexico or the United States during the time that the contagious infection has been spreading undiscovered, but according to Johan Carlson at the welfare board, it could number several thousand.

No one yet knows how dangerous the new H1N1 virus is in terms of contagion or mortality, but the fact that deaths have been confirmed among the younger generations is cause for concern.

"We are concerned that it will affect the younger population," said Annika Linde.

Maria Larsson, Sweden's public health minister, has confirmed that the government is now meeting daily at state secretary level to discuss the issue.

"We have now mobilized an organisation and take this very seriously," Maria Larsson said at a press conference at the government offices.

Larsson assured that Sweden would be prepared for when the first case is confirmed.

"We have prepared the organization for just that. We have a good monitoring system, there is access to medicines and we have guarantees to secure medicines, when there is medicine available."

"Our operative authorities and the healthcare system know exactly how to manage confirmed cases."

Maria Larsson confirmed that Sweden has contracts with one of the largest manufacturers of flu vaccines and she is satisfied that this is the best way to ensure supplies for the Swedish people.

The guarantees cover a total of 18 million doses.

The EU's health ministers will gather for an extraordinary meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday.

"It is important, in the first instance, to follow the recommendations of the WHO. The WHO has the international perspective and is the most important guide and advisor in this," Maria Larsson concluded.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:22 April 30, 2009 by peropaco
I guess they will give people extra doses of Alvidon, the Swedish magic pill. I also wonder if it ever get to the point where they will have to vaccinate those affected they will probably segment it like this. If you name is Miguel, Carmen, Mahmoud, Ali, Reza, Mordechai, Shlomo, Czeslawa, Mamadou please stand on this line and take two alvidon with a shot of vodka. If you name is Magnus, Björn, Agneta, Karl-Filip, Henrik, Malin, please stand on this line and roll up your shirt.
14:49 April 30, 2009 by storstark
tråkigt.

Swine flu flew in 1976. The Ford Admin, Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, moved to vaccinate the US population - 40 million before some developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, nerve damage and paralysis. More died from this than from the virus and the program called off.

Now another swine flu pandemic porky and Tamiflu is touted again as the tool to have in your 'end of days kit' as it was in the Bush Adminstration, when Rumsy was again DefSec.. Between his two terms as DefSec old loveable Rumsy sat on the board of directors of Gilead Sciences (www.gilead.com). This company invented Tamiflu, licenced to and marketed by Roche.

Whether coincidence or causal, it is quite sick. Our governments fall for it and we pay to stockpile old Rumsy's medicine. Invest in Gilead, Roche and GSK and believe nothing. It's all been said before.

(i must say, for an honest, transparent and trustworthy figure, Obama sure is letting through a lot of Bush style goings-ons)
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