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UK gets "lucky break" on swine flu

The chief medical officer has announced that swine flu is not spreading as quickly as predicted in the UK, meaning more people can be vaccinated before the pandemic takes hold.

Sir Liam Donaldson said that while a second wave of flu has hit the UK, fewer people have been affected than thought.

It was previously anticipated that the numbers of people with swine flu would double week on week as we head into winter. In the last week, the number of new cases has gone up from 14,000 to 18,000, with the number a fortnight ago standing at 9,000.

Plans are in place to vaccinate vulnerable groups and frontline health workers by the end of the month, when the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) vaccine is delivered. According to Sir Liam, around half a million doses of the Baxter vaccine are already in stock and the arrival of the GSK vaccine is "imminent".

Sir Liam said: "We are well into the second wave of pandemic flu, having had the first wave in July but it's proving so far to be a slow burner.It means we could get the vaccine programme well under way."

"We may have got a lucky break in how the virus has behaved at the start of our flu season and we may be able to get the vaccine out there before our flu season really gets under way."

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