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WHO Says Confirmed H1N1 Deaths Worldwide Reach 1,799

According to the latest WHO report out Wednesday, the number of confirmed H1N1 (swine) flu deaths since its emergence in April has reached 1,799 – a jump from 1,462 deaths since the agency’s last update, Agence France-Presse/the Australian reports. The WHO report also notes Ghana, Tuvalu and Zambia became the latest countries to confirm H1N1 cases for the first time, bringing the total number of countries with H1N1 to over 170 (8/20).

Also on Wednesday, the total number of deaths from H1N1 in Latin America rose above 1,300 – “more than 70 percent of the world’s fatatlities” – after the country governments reported updates, the AFP reports in a separate story. “With vaccines against swine flu still more than a month away from being available — and wealthy countries snapping up all available pre-orders from the big drug companies — Latin American nations are looking at ignoring patents to produce their own,” the news service writes, adding, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Tuesday appealed for pharmaceutical companies to “drop patent protection for their vaccines.” “Given the laboratories’ confession that they can’t produce enough A(H1N1) flu vaccine for the whole world, the economic rights should be suspended to protect the health of mankind,” Kirchner said (8/19).

Australia To Begin H1N1 Vaccination Campaign In September

Australian health officials announced Thursday they anticipate launching the country’s H1N1 vaccination campaign in September, “in what may turn out to be the first such program since the emergence of the disease in April,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. According to Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon, the first of 2 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine, manufactured by the Australian drug maker CSL will be released to the government Aug. 31, “but that safety tests from clinical trials are not yet complete,” the news service writes. However, the government expects to receive an interim report from the ongoing H1N1 clinical trials next week, Roxon said.

“CSL recently notified the United States that its shipments would arrive later than promised because it first must provide batches to the Australian government,” the news service adds. U.S. health officials predict the country’s H1N1 vaccine campaign will start in mid-October (McGuirk, 8/20).

Reactions To H1N1 In Namibia, Mozambique

The Namibian/allAfrica.com reports on the growing worries about H1N1 among people living in Namibia. According to the report, several newly confirmed cases of the virus led the National Health Emergency Management Committee (NHEMC) during its bi-weekly meeting to appeal to the Office of the Prime Minister for a national H1N1 task force. “This thing is getting too big, we can’t handle it alone anymore,” NHEMC Chairman Jack Vries said. “His fears were echoed by reports from Sapa yesterday, quoting experts who warned that poverty, disease and overburdened health systems make Africa an easy target for the A(H1N1) virus,” the news service adds (Duddy, 8/19).

Mozambique’s Health Minister Ivo Garrido on Wednesday reminded the public to take preventive measures to reduce their risks of acquiring the virus instead of panicking over Monday’s announcement that the H1N1 virus has surfaced in the country, AIM/allAfrica.com reports (8/19).