Swiss defend swine flu vaccine purchase

May 27, 2010 12:00 am

, GENEVA, May 27 – Swiss authorities on Thursday defended their decision to buy about twice as many doses of vaccines as its population at the beginning of the swine flu pandemic, much of which remained unused.

"The purchase of the vaccines in the climate of uncertainty in the beginning of the A(H1N1) flu pandemic was justified, the same could be said for the doses of vaccines purchased," the Federal Interior Department said in a statement, referring to results of a probe into its management of the pandemic.

In June 2009, Switzerland ordered 13 million doses of vaccine for its population of seven million from British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and Swiss group Novartis for 84 million francs.

However, only 15 percent of the population were vaccinated. As a result, the country was left with 8.2 million doses of unused vaccines.

Swiss authorities had therefore commissioned a group of experts to evaluate its management of the pandemic.

According to the results of the report published Thursday, international experts and the audit group Ernst and Young found that the government was not wrong in ordering the vaccines as "at that time, national and international experts assumed that two doses were needed per person."

Some 570 people in Switzerland were hospitalised and 20 died after they caught swine flu.


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