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SWINE FLU

Municipalities call for swine flu inquiry

The Swedish taxpayer spent 1.4 billion ($181 million) in connection with the mass vaccination programme against the swine flu last autumn and the Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting - SKL) has called for an independent inquiry.

“The key issue that we have to look at is if it is really worthwhile spending these vast sums of tax revenues. It is money which could have been used for other healthcare,” Göran Stiernstedt at SKL told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

SKL has calculated the total cost of the swine flu vaccination programme and identified the purchase of vaccines as the largest cost, amounting to 870 million kronor.

“It would have been even worse had we not been able to renegotiate the vaccine agreement and cut costs by almost 300 million,” he said.

When the swine flu outbreak was declared a pandemic on June 11th 2009, Sweden elected to offer vaccinations to the entire population, one of the few countries to do so, according to SvD.

Sweden had already ordered 18 million doses after the previous avian flu outbreak and when symptoms of the swine flu began to emerge in September around 5.5 million people were vaccinated in a mass programme that was accompanied by massive media coverage.

Despite the massive demand only 7 million doses were used, leaving 11 million doses in surplus.

The Local reported in May 2010 that Sweden was able to cut the final bill by 300 million kronor 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.

Despite the agreement Sweden still now has some 6.5 million doses, worth 400 million kronor, that now risk becoming useless and SKL has called for an in depth examination of Sweden’s management of the pandemic.

After the initial wave of infections in August and September, few cases were reported in Sweden after November. A total of 11,000 registered cases of swine flu were reported with 29 deaths.

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SWINE FLU

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.

READ ALSO: Sweden introduces new road signs to help non-Swedish speakers

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