Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Will westerners take Chinese swine flu jab?

A Chinese company has become the first to complete trials of a vaccine against the H1N1 virus.
The question is whether the rest of the world will happily inject themselves with a new Chinese-made drug. After years of safety scandals over everything from tainted blood products to lead paint and contaminate milk, Chinese standards have not enjoyed a great reputation.
However, the company in question (predictably called 'Sinovac') stands to make billions of dollars if it can steal a march on its western rivals in a bid to mass produce a swine flu vaccine this autumn.
Meanwhile, China is apparently taking the swine flu pandemic more seriously than European and the US as children prepare to return to school.
While most countries are reluctant to disrupt normal life, Beijing is taking no chances and will delay reopening of schools in some areas. Class sizes will also be cut and any student who has been in contact with someone with swine flu is being told to stay home.
After its shambolic handling of the SARS outbreak, this is clearly seen as a chance for redemption.