Swine flu bill tops 900 million kronor

The swine flu vaccine is set to cost the Swedish tax payer 900 million kronor ($121 million), according to new figures released by the National Board of Health and Welfare.

The figure is 300 million kronor less than forecast after the vaccine’s manufacturer Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) agreed to cut the number of supplied doses by 25 percent from 18 to 13.5 million doses.

Since the launch of the mass vaccination programme last autumn six million doses have been used, with the remaining seven million doses held in central reserve in the instance of a new outbreak.

“It is a good guarantee for the future and a good base,” said Anders Tegnell at the board.

According to the agreement with GSK the firm has committed itself to upgrading the existing vaccine stocks if the virus changes or if another strain of influenza develops into a pandemic.

Furthermore the portion of the vaccine that helps to strengthen the immune system will be replaced at no cost if it is shown that it expires within three years.

The pandemic petered out in December after a peak in the late autumn but despite the anti-climax, Tegnell defended the decision to offer the vaccine to everyone.

“We have learnt just how unpredictable pandemics can be,” he said.

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Denmark to rebuild border fence due to wild animal deaths

A fence erected by Denmark along its border with Germany as a measure against swine flu must now be partially rebuilt.

Denmark to rebuild border fence due to wild animal deaths
Wild boar crossing a street in Poland. File photo: Agencja Gazeta/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

A number of wild animals have become unintended casualties after becoming stuck on the fence. A new type of wire mesh will be installed to prevent future occurrences, Jyllands-Posten reports.

The section of fencing to be replaced is 2.5 kilometres long, the newspaper writes.

While the new fencing must continue to keep wild boar out of Denmark, it must also ensure that other animals such as deer do not stuck on the fence and netting, which can result in a slow and painful death.

The Danish Nature Agency (Naturstyrelsen) is responsible for the purchase of the new fencing. An initial 600 metres will initially be installed near the Frøslev Mose nature area, where the number of animals is highest, environment minister Lea Wermelin said in a parliamentary committee response.

The remaining 1,900 meters of new fence will be stored and can be added to other stretches in consultation with local citizens and hunters, Jyllands-Posten writes.

The overall aim of the measure is to allow “legal” animals to pass while continuing to block the path of wild boar.

Nature Agency forest official Bent Rasmussen told local media Jydske Vestkysten that three dead animals, all types of deer, have so far been found in the fence.

“Compared to other fencing systems across Denmark, that's not so bad at all,” Rasmussen said, while also recognizing the need to prevent more deaths.

“It is a disaster for the individual animal. And none of us think it’s not terrible to see the pictures of animals hanging in that way,” he said.

The 70-kilometre fence was erected last year as a measure against the spread of swine flu, at a cost of 45 million kroner, less than initially projected. The update is expected to cost 200,000 kroner.