BEIJING: China has inoculated over 3.78 million people against swine flu and distributed over 26 million doses of vaccine to ward off a serious outbreak of the disease, the government said today.
Over 33 million doses produced by eight Chinese pharmaceutical companies have been approved for
distribution, with another 100 million more doses
expected in the first quarter of next year, the health ministry said.
“The trend of a quickly spreading A/H1N1 virus has emerged worldwide and is posing a serious
situation to our domestic prevention efforts,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.
“At present, the number of flu cases in many areas has gone up sharply, group cases have appeared in many schools and some areas have already entered a period of high influenza infection.” “During the coming period, the epidemic will continue to develop.” The statement comes after Prime Minister Wen Jiabao urged increased measures to fight the virus during a Saturday visit to a Beijing children’s hospital.
“Currently the situation on preventing the spread of the A/H1N1 virus is very serious, in some places an explosion or a prevalence of cases can occur,” Wen said on state television.
The swine flu has infected over 46,000 people and killed six in China, including two in recent days, the ministry reported.
The number of infections was up by 1,000 from
Friday.
Fearing a spike in infections, China, which has the world’s largest population at 1.3 billion, has launched a mass vaccination campaign in a bid to stave off outbreaks as the regular flu season sets in.
The government has
said it plans to inoculate five per cent of the population against swine flu by year’s end.
China’s drug watchdog has so far received nearly 53 million doses of vaccines from manufacturers, but only 33 million have been approved for distribution, the ministry said.
There have been no reports of serious adverse reactions to the vaccine, the government added.
Despite recording thousands of cases, China had reported no deaths until early in October, while the latest two fatalities were reported on Saturday by the health ministry.
More than 5,700 people have died of swine flu worldwide since the virus was first uncovered in April, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
Nearly 4,200 of the deaths were recorded in the Americas region, it said.