WARSAW, Poland – Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Friday that his government won’t buy vaccines for swine flu that have not been properly tested or from producers who won’t take responsibility for possible side effects.
Tusk told reporters that vaccine producers were pressuring governments to buy, but were also demanding that all responsibility and compensation for possible negative side effects fall upon government shoulders.
“Today we are dealing with great pressure from pharmaceutical firms … we are dealing with expectations that hundreds of millions of zlotys (dollars) will be spent on vaccine while no one wants to guarantee that it has no side effects,” he said.
He stressed that the few dozen swine cases in Poland have been mild and no deaths have been reported.
Some independent health experts have been advising vaccination after a recent surge in flu cases in neighbouring Ukraine saw more than 700,000 cases and 109 deaths of people with flu-like illness in recent weeks.
Fourteen of the fatalities were swine flu cases, Polish news agency PAP reported, citing Ukraine’s chief doctor Oleksandr Bilovol.
Polish health officials said a military medical laboratory in Pulawy was testing samples taken in Ukraine from sick people. Poland is also sending face masks to Ukraine.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization said that the swine flu virus has become the predominant flu strain worldwide.
In some countries, swine flu accounts for up to 70 per cent of the flu viruses being sampled, according to Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s top flu official.
While most people recover from the illness without needing medical treatment, officials are also continuing to see severe cases in people under 65 – people who are not usually at risk during regular flu seasons.