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First Batch of Swine Flu Vaccine Produced

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June 2, 2009: A doctor checks on a child suspected of having H1N1 at a mobile clinic in the Children's Hospital in Nicaragua. (Reuters)

Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis AG said Friday it has successfully produced a first batch of swine flu vaccine weeks ahead of expectations.

The vaccine was made in cells, rather than grown in eggs as is usually the case with vaccines, the company said.

The announcement comes a day after the World Health Organization declared swine flu, also known as A(H1N1), a pandemic. The move indicates that a global outbreak is under way. WHO says drugmakers will likely have vaccines approved and ready for sale after September.

Novartis said it would use the first batch of vaccine for pre-clinical evaluation and testing. It is also being considered for clinical trials, the company said.

The vaccine was produced at a Novartis plant in Marburg, Germany. Novartis said the facility could potentially produce millions of doses of vaccine a week.

A second plant is being built in Holly Springs, North Carolina, the company said.

Novartis said more than 30 governments have requested vaccine supplies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, which placed a $289 million order in May.