(Corrects 8th paragraph to make clear number of U.S. deaths is 211, not 170; removes extraneous “an” in first paragraph)
WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) - The United States will spend another $1 billion for ingredients for an H1N1 vaccine, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Sunday.
“There’ll be another $1 billion worth of orders placed to get the bulk ingredients for an H1N1 vaccination. Congress has agreed with the president that this is the number one priority, keeping Americans safe and secure,” Sebelius said on CNN.
Sebelius has said plans were on track for a mid-October vaccination program, although it was not certain Americans would be offered the vaccine for the so-called swine flu.
“We are aggressively working on, first of all, testing the virus strains to get a vaccination ready. It needs to be safe so testing and clinical trials will start this month. We’ll know a lot more by the end of the summer and it needs to be effective,” she said.
Companies already are working on an H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a July 23 advisory panel meeting to discuss clinical trials of the vaccines against the H1N1 influenza virus.
“FDA is working with the scientists at NIH (National Institutes of Health) to make sure that we have a safe and effective strain and then we’re getting ready to make sure that we have a vaccination program.”
There are about 1 million cases of H1N1 right now in the United States, where 211 people have died from the strain, Sebelius said.
About 36,000 people die each year from the seasonal flu. (World Desk Americas, +1 202-789-8015)