The influenza A H1N1 virus contains gene segments from human, bird, and pig flu viruses as well as ones similar to Eurasian swine flu, as our sister site GenomeWeb Daily News, and a few others, reported on Friday when an online early Science study came out. This mixture suggests that the virus has been circulating undetected for years, probably in pigs, and the CDC's Nancy Cox said that this new study shows that better monitoring of flu in animal populations is needed. (An upcoming in the July issue of Scientific American concurs that animal surveillance, not human, should be the "first line of defense.") Cox adds that knowing which gene segments the virus contains will make producing a vaccine easier. To that end, the HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the department will allocate $1 billion of existing funds toward ingredients for an H1N1 flu vaccine. Three companies, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi-Pasteur, will receive most of the money to make antigens and adjuvants, $288.8 million, $181.1 million, and $190.6 million, respectively, according to Science Insider.
Knowing Your Enemy
May 25, 2009