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Experts say vaccines are effective against H1N1 virus mutation

By Michael Krebs     Nov 22, 2009 in Health
Reacting to the announcement from Norwegian scientists that the H1N1 swine flu virus has successfully mutated, a number of experts reassured the public - saying the vaccine is effective against the new strain.
Friday's announcement of the discovery of a potentially more virulent mutation in H1N1 swine flu samples in Norway was further qualified by a number of experts over the weekend. While the mutation story in Norway was also coupled with reports of Tamiflu-resistant clusters of swine flu, scientists believe the mutated bug remains susceptible to the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
In reaction to the Norwegian announcement, the World Health Organization said that they have seen this mutation before in numerous countries - including the United States, Ukraine, Brazil, Mexico, China, and Japan.
The disturbing reality on the fact of this mutation is that we do not know if the virus is replicating toward more virulence or simply making sloppy copies of itself. While the surveillance is there, we do not necessarily know what we are seeing.
However, a number of experts have come out to say specifically that the vaccine is effective against the mutated virus and that the new strain is also kept in check by anti-virals.
In a radio interview on Saturday, France's health chief, Didier Houssin reiterated that the vaccine remains effective against the mutation. In anticipation of a mutation event, "a certain number of our vaccines are vaccines with an additive," which allow for a broader range of impact against modifications in the H1N1 virus, Houssin said.
It was unclear what the percentage of H1N1 vaccines contain that additive.
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