Human Tests Begin on H1N1 VaccineAugust 10, 2009 - 9:39 AM | by: Jonathan Serrie
DECATUR, Ga. — Human trials of a vaccine against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus begin today at Emory University’s Hope Clinic.
Researchers plan to inject roughly 25 volunteers per day over the next five days. They hope to determine not only the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, but also whether one or two doses are required to produce full immunity to the disease.
Emory is among eight research institutions around the country testing H1N1 vaccines. According to the Word Health Organization, a vaccine could become available to the general public as early as September.
The vaccine trials begin on a day many American children return to school. And while experts predict a resurgence of H1N1 cases in the fall, there will likely be fewer school closings than there were during the initial outbreak in the spring.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines discouraging the practice:
“Based on the experience and knowledge gained in jurisdictions that had large outbreaks in spring 2009, the potential benefits of preemptively dismissing students from school are often outweighed by negative consequences, including students being left home alone, health workers missing shifts when they must stay home with their children, students missing meals and interruption of students’ education.”
Instead, the CDC recommends schools focus on routine cleaning, basic hygiene and, in the event of a more serious outbreak, active screening of students and staff for fever and other symptoms of flu. The CDC also recommends children who become sick with H1N1 be allowed to return to class as early as 24 hours after their fever goes away.
According to CDC figures released Aug. 7, H1N1 has been responsible for 6,506 hospitalizations and 436 deaths in the U.S. To put this in perspective, it’s estimated more than 1 million Americans may have been infected with the disease — most of them experiencing symptoms no more severe than seasonal flu (which, according to CDC data, is responsible for approximately 36,000 U.S. deaths each year).
But some health experts are concerned the H1N1 virus could mutate into a more serious form. Which is why the human trials beginning today are so important.