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Study: Faster Vaccine Needed in Flu Pandemic

If a particularly deadly flu virus spread worldwide, saving lives would require much faster vaccine development than occurred in the 2009 pandemic, a study finds. The new study used a computer simulation. Researchers looked at how quickly a deadly influenza A outbreak would spread in a metropolitan area similar to New York City. They assumed that 1,000 people would be infected at the start. Without vaccination, they found that about 48,000 people would die. During the 2009 pandemic, a vaccine was ready for use in 9 months. But in the computer model, vaccinating people after 9 months would reduce the death toll by only about 2,300. Deaths would be further reduced if the vaccine were developed much earlier. The 2009 pandemic was caused by a flu strain known as H1N1. That strain spread fast, but was relatively mild compared with past pandemics.

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