Andy Burnham briefs MPs on swine flu pandemic

June 14, 2009 at 11:27 am 1 comment


The Health Secretary came to the Commons on Friday after the World Health Organisation raised its swine flu pandemic alert status to phase 6.

Andy Burnham said:

“There is now clear evidence of sustained community transmission in countries outside north America, which means that we are facing the first pandemic for more than 40 years.

“Across the world, nearly 30,000 cases have been confirmed in 74 different countries.

“As of today, there have been 909 confirmed cases in the UK. There have been 144 reported deaths in six countries, but none in the UK.”

He told MPs that the government has allocated £6 million in additional help for the international response but the UK’s preparations for swine flu have been under way “for several weeks now and are at an advanced stage.”

“At discussions at the Civil Contingencies Committee this week, we were able to update our strategy to respond to the latest advice,” he said.

“That includes the use of clinical diagnosis rather than laboratory testing alone where there is a high probability that cases are positive and the more targeted use of antiviral prophylaxis, which is where antivirals are provided on a preventive basis to contacts considered most at risk of contracting the virus.

“In practice, that will include mainly household or household-like contacts, or, in a school context, those at surrounding desks, for example.”

Mr Burhnam said that the declaration of phase 6 is “highly significant because it means that manufacturers will now be expected to meet the contractual obligations of advance purchase agreements for vaccine that countries, including ourselves, had already agreed in the event of phase 6 being declared.”

Advance purchase agreements means the UK can purchase up to 132 million doses of pandemic-specific vaccine—enough for two doses for 100 per cent. of the population.

The Health Secretary said he expects the first deliveries of the pandemic vaccine to arrive in the autumn.

“We have been monitoring our domestic response continually. The formal declaration of a pandemic should not affect people’s day-to-day business and it does not affect our assessment of how the virus is behaving in this country,” he said.

“It is important to stress that the majority of cases in the UK so far have not been severe, with those catching the virus making a full and fast recovery—though a small minority of cases have been more serious.”


Entry filed under: Commons. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Lisa85856  |  July 13, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Interesting stuff. Did you hear that there’s a new strain which is resistant to the anti-flu drugs? Tamiflu etc? Found a really good website for tracking it’s progress, seems to be updated every hour or so…


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