Businesses will be crippled within two months
Businesses will be crippled within two months as swine flu forces one in eight workers to stay at home, according to official figures.
Across the first wave of the pandemic this summer up to 30% of the population may catch swine flu, the figures suggest. It is feared that the combination of high sickness levels and holiday absences will put pressure on businesses already struggling with the recession.
Cases of swine flu have risen by almost 50% in a week, figures suggested on Wednesday, as Sir Liam Donaldson the Chief Medical Officer said that ‘glitches’ could delay delivery of the first vaccine against the virus.
The infection is continuing to spread and new ‘hot spots’ of disease are emerging, according to experts. In some parts of England, reported cases of influenza-like illness have increased sixfold over the past seven days.
There has been a slight fall in London, although the capital remains the worst affected area. The number of infections remains high in Birmingham, and Leicester is starting to see large numbers of patients affected.
Sir Liam said he expected that the first doses of the vaccine against the virus would be available towards the end of August. ‘That is assuming that the manufacturers continue to produce it in the way that is scheduled,’ he said. ‘It is a complex process and sometimes there can be glitches.’
Researchers have said that early tests indicate yields of the vaccine could be smaller than those expected with normal seasonal flu. This could potentially lengthen the production process, although new strains of the injection are currently being developed to try to improve yield.