France cancels orders for 50 mln A/H1N1 flu vaccine doses

13:48, January 05, 2010      

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Amid the controversy over the costly A/H1N1 flu vaccination campaign in France, the Health Ministry on Monday announced the cancellation of 50 million doses of vaccine against the epidemic, more than half of what the government had initially ordered.

"I have cancelled 50 million doses," French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said on TF1 television, adding that those doses had not been paid or delivered.

The cancelled doses of A/H1N1 flu vaccine exceeded half of the government's total orders and could save more than 350 million euros (504 million U.S. dollars), Bachelot added.

In efforts to prevent a possible massive outbreak of the A/H1N1epidemic,France had originally planned to spend 869 million euros (1251 million dollars) for 94 million doses, with the estimation that each individual would need two injections to get immunized.

However, the European Union's health authorities confirmed later that just one dose would be sufficient for each person.

On Sunday, the French health ministry said it would sell off part of its A/H1N1 flu vaccine stocks to other countries. Qatar had already purchased 300,000 doses from France, and Egypt, Mexico and Ukraine were also eyeing France's surplus vaccines.

The sell-off has triggered harsh criticism from the opposition parties, which accused the government of wasting taxpayers' money and overreacting to the threat of A/H1N1 flu.

Bachelot's announcement followed some senior opposition politicians' calls for a parliamentary investigation into the national vaccination campaign.

The amount of vaccines France was selling off was just "marginal," the minister said.

The A/H1N1 flu has killed nearly 200 people on mainland France, and some five million people have been vaccinated since October 2009 when the government launched a national campaign against the disease.

Source: Xinhua
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