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Swine Flu

Volume 716: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the cost to date of immunisation against the spread of swine flu; what estimate they have of recovery of funding from the sale or return of unused vaccines; how many people died from the disease in the last year; how many died from other influenzas in the same period; and whether they received any epidemiological advice contrary to that which was followed. [HL1418]

We are not able to give details of the cost of the swine flu vaccine due to confidentiality clauses in our contracts with the manufacturers. We are unable to return vaccines that have already been delivered. The options for handling the anticipated surplus of vaccine are currently being explored with the manufacturers. We will be seeking to minimise the overall cost to the British taxpayer.

The Chief Medical Officer has carried out a confidential investigation of swine flu-related deaths since the pandemic began. As of 21 January 2010, there had been 279 swine flu-related deaths in England. There has been no significant circulation of seasonal influenza in England in this same period.

The Health Protection Agency has a long-term established system to monitor excess deaths (deaths in excess of what would normally be expected for the time of year) based on data from the Office for National Statistics. Influenza is one important contributory factor to excess deaths each year. In the period April to December 2009, no excess mortality has been observed.

Throughout the swine flu pandemic, we have been advised by a wide range of experts from all relevant disciplines. Our decisions have been based on the information we had about swine flu; at the beginning there was very little information available but our knowledge about the disease has increased with time. The epidemiological advice we followed reflected the consensus view of the scientists who provided that advice.