Testing of the Government’s new H1N1 vaccine has commenced on children, with two separate drugs being assessed for effectiveness.
A total of 1,000 youngsters between the ages of six months and 12 years old will be recruited at five test venues in Oxford, Bristol, Southampton, Exeter and London to see which of the two drugs performs best.
One of the two medications – Pandremix, made by GlaxoSmithKline – has been approved by European regulators, while assent for the second – made by Baxter – is expected later this week.
The Government is hoping to start vaccinating millions of people in high-risk groups, such as those with asthma and diabetes, and health workers, from next month. Medical officials hope the programme will protect against an expected second wave of swine flu infections in the winter.
Head researcher Professor Andrew Pollard, from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “We are sort of in a race against time because we know the flu season is already started. We hope to immunise the children over the next 10 days or so.”
In all, a total of 82 deaths have been linked to the virus across the UK.
Copyright Press Association 2009