Swine flu bill tops 900 million kronor

The swine flu vaccine is set to cost the Swedish tax payer 900 million kronor ($121 million), according to new figures released by the National Board of Health and Welfare.

The figure is 300 million kronor less than forecast after the vaccine’s manufacturer Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) agreed to cut the number of supplied doses by 25 percent from 18 to 13.5 million doses.

Since the launch of the mass vaccination programme last autumn six million doses have been used, with the remaining seven million doses held in central reserve in the instance of a new outbreak.

“It is a good guarantee for the future and a good base,” said Anders Tegnell at the board.

According to the agreement with GSK the firm has committed itself to upgrading the existing vaccine stocks if the virus changes or if another strain of influenza develops into a pandemic.

Furthermore the portion of the vaccine that helps to strengthen the immune system will be replaced at no cost if it is shown that it expires within three years.

The pandemic petered out in December after a peak in the late autumn but despite the anti-climax, Tegnell defended the decision to offer the vaccine to everyone.

“We have learnt just how unpredictable pandemics can be,” he said.

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Sweden to put up signs warning against swine flu

Fear is increasing in Sweden that the African swine flu virus could spread to the Scandinavian country.

Sweden to put up signs warning against swine flu
File photo: Ingvar Karmhed / Svd / TT

The county administration in Uppsala wants all municipalities in the area to put up signs warning of the risk of infection in the area, P4 Uppland reports.

“We have received instruction from the Swedish Board of Agriculture to inform municipalities about putting up signs at barbecue areas, picnic areas and bathing areas,” Mira Amin, a veterinarian employed by the county, told the radio station.

Signs in six languages will inform the public that leftovers should be thrown into the correct receptacles, and not left out so that pigs and wild boar can get to them.

African swine fever is not dangerous to humans, but can be lethal to boar and domestic pigs. The disease can be transmitted via food such as smoked sausage or ham, according to the Swedish Board of Agriculture.

Earlier this summer, it was reported that signs will also be placed at layby and rest areas on major roadways in southern parts of the country, where wild boar are known to roam.

The Swedish measure does not go as far as in neighbouring Denmark, however.

Copenhagen made the decision last year to erect a 70 kilometre-long fence along Denmark’s border with Germany to protect itself against the disease, despite experts questioning the effectivity of such a barrier.

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