After the vaccine industry gears up for the huge global campaign against swine flu this fall, the World Health Organization is expected to ask major manufacturers to blend their swine flu vaccines into the annual supply of seasonal influenza vaccines. The A/H1N1 strain that has triggered health alarms around the world is now the dominant A flu virus in circulation.
This year swine flu appeared after the big manufacturers were already well into the production of seasonal flu vaccines. But with planning expected to begin soon on the 2010 seasonal vaccine for the Southern Hemisphere, researchers are already expecting to get orders to prepare a single jab that also guards against A/H1N1.
Once the preparatory work begins, scientists say that it is likely that the next swine flu vaccine will be somewhat different than the one being produced now. Flu viruses typically mutate, a process called antigen drift.