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Canada Loans 5M Doses Of H1N1 Vaccine To Mexico

Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq on Wednesday announced plans for the country to loan Mexico five million doses of the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine, Agence France-Presse reports. The loan will help Mexico meet its innoculation demand, while the country waits for H1N1 vaccine orders to be fulfilled by several manufacturers. “Mexico is expected to replenish the borrowed Canadian stock by the end of March, Aglukkaq said,” according to the news service (1/6).

According to Reuters, a Canadian health ministry press release stated that the country is not donating the vaccines to Mexico and assured that “Canada already has distributed and has stockpiled enough vaccine in Canada to meet its immediate and ongoing needs, as well as to accommodate Mexico’s request” (Egan, 1/6).

The Globe and Mail examines the expected H1N1 vaccine surplus in Canada as well as several options for what to do with the leftover vaccines. “The federal government could choose to donate excess vaccine to the World Heath Organization, which is helping developing countries that can’t afford to buy it,” the newspaper writes. “It can also keep some of the remaining vaccine in reserve in case the virus returns in the winter… The vaccine has a shelf life of 18 months” (Alphonso, 1/6).

In related news, IRIN examines an ongoing H1N1 vaccination campaign in Egypt targeting the country’s schoolchildren. The program, which was launched on Jan. 3, aims to vaccinate half of Egypt’s school-aged children through several phases. “So far, Egypt has obtained only one million influenza shots; 150,000 have already been used to inoculate pilgrims who went to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj at the end of November 2009,” IRIN writes. “Egypt expects to receive about four million additional doses of the H1N1 influenza vaccine any time now, according to Mohamed Rabie, head of Vacsera, a government-owned company responsible for importing the vaccine” (1/6).

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry will begin distributing the first of 400,000 H1N1 vaccines on Monday, the country’s permanent secretary said Thursday, the Nation reports (1/7).