US Sets Aside $1 Billion for Swine Flu Vaccine
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the funds on Friday, sort of a down payment should broader vaccine production eventually be deemed necessary.
"The actions we are taking today will help us be prepared if a vaccine is needed," Sebelius said.
The funds will be used to conduct studies this summer of whether initial pilot doses of vaccine work and are safe - and to place initial orders with manufacturers for two vaccine ingredients for what HHS is calling a pre-pandemic stockpile.
HHS officials said the goal is for the stockpile to allow quick production of enough shots to cover 20 million people, health care workers and people particularly vulnerable to influenza complications, if needed. That also would set up infrastructure to produce more as necessary.
The government hopes to deliver the first so-called seed stock of the new flu virus - the first step in brewing vaccine - to manufacturers next week. World health authorities will later decide whether to call for full-scale vaccine production.