'Lucky break' in swine flu fight
Reported October 08, 2009
The UK may have had a "lucky break" with the way swine flu is spreading, the
chief medical officer says.
The number of new infections has dropped in Scotland and is not rising as
rapidly as first feared in England.
Sir Liam Donaldson said the second peak was proving to be a "slow-burn"
which was buying time to get the vaccine programme under way.
The two jabs being used in the UK have now been licensed and GPs should
start immunising within a few weeks.
By getting to that stage before a sharp rise in new infections, Sir Liam
believes many lives could be saved.
"We are well into the second wave of pandemic flu after the first wave in
July, but it is proving to be a slow-burn.
"We may have got a lucky break with the way the virus has behaved and we may
be able to get the vaccine out there before our flu season really gets under
"I am looking at it very optimistically."
People with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease and
diabetes, and pregnant women will be among a 14m-strong priority group which
will get the vaccine first along with health workers.
The government has yet to decide whether the rest of the population should
Sir Liam even suggested the second peak may not be as bad as first
"It is possible it may peak at a lower and earlier level than first
expected. That would be incredibly positive."
Sir Liam was speaking after releasing the latest figures for weekly
In England, there were 18,000 new cases - up from 14,000 the week before -
but well short of the doubling that would represent a surge in cases.
However, the number of patients in intensive care has hit 47 - a two-month
Meanwhile, in Scotland the number of new infections has halved to 6,800.
Levels in Wales and Northern Ireland have always been and remain much lower.
In total, 90 people have died with swine flu since the outbreak first
Source : BBC News