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Drug firm to start shipping flu vaccine

One of the firms commissioned to produce a vaccine for swine flu is in discussions with more than 50 countries about its treatments.

GlaxoSmithKline, which is expected to start shipping a vaccine for the virus in September, said it has agreed contracts for 195 million doses with 16 countries.

The drug maker has predicted that there will be further orders of the H1N1 vaccine and has announced plans to triple its availability by the end of the year.

More than 700 people are thought to have died from the virus across the world, according to estimates from the World Health Organization. A total of 31 deaths have been recorded in the UK.

The UK government has ordered 132 million doses from Glaxo and the same amount from another drug firm, Baxter.

The chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, said the speed with which the vaccine would be produced is dependent on the development process.

He added that governments were looking to make themselves fully prepared.

Copyright © Press Association 2009