Manufacturers get green light to start packing flu vax

Faced with alarming projections that swine flu can kill up to 90,000 Americans, U.S. government officials have given vaccine makers a green light to start preparing shipments of a new jab--their fill-and-finish stage--before they even have clinical trial data in hand.

"The recommendation was to proceed with filling and finishing even before dosage information is available," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden tells Time. "That step has been taken."

It has to be taken, he goes on, in order to start delivering the vaccine for use in mid-October, when the government expects to get a massive inoculation campaign underway. But top officials are quick to add that the unusual step won't endanger anyone. They'll wait for the data to come in, and initial indications are that the vaccine should work as expected.

"We can't yet predict what proportion of the population will be infected," says Dr. Harold Varmus, president of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a member of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. "But it is very likely that something upward of 50% will be affected."

- read the story from Time