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Homeland Security

Russia's top sanitary official predicts second wave of swine flu in spring

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's top sanitary official said the country should prepare for a second stage of swine flu epidemic, which could break out in spring.

Gennady Onishchenko said, however, that as long as the A/H1N1 virus does not mutate, there will be no emergency situation announced in the country. Mutations of swine flu virus have been registered in 31 countries, but research on changes in the virus genome being held around the world has shown that the virus does not become more aggressive.

"The virus behaves quite predictably. It has been registered in 190 countries, but in the overwhelming majority of cases (95%) infections were light," the sanitary official said.

However, he said, it is better to get vaccinated against swine flu.

Onishchenko said some 6 million flu and acute respiratory viral infection cases had been registered in Russia in November this year, while there were only 2 million cases last November.

Only 27-30% of this year's infections in Russia were swine flu, he said.

Russia's sanitary watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said there were 21,000 swine flu cases officially registered across the country as of December 7.

Four vaccines against the virus have been tested and registered in Russia. The government has allocated 4 billion rubles ($140 million) to buy the initial 43 million doses of vaccines. Russia's sanitary authorities said they planned to have 35.5 million doses before the end of the year.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on its website that as of December 13, at least 10,582 people throughout the world had died of swine flu, with about a thousand passing away during the previous week. However, every year, up to 500,000 people die from seasonal flu.

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