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US sends 3 virus samples for analysis

THREE swine flu virus samples for medical analysis provided by the United States will be delivered to China in the next two or three days.

Qiang Zhengfu, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's chief of international cooperation, said one of the H1N1 samples was taken from a Mexican patient and the other two were from Americans.

He also said a sample donated by Hong Kong would soon be delivered to the mainland.

Chinese medical experts will analyse the samples to determine the cause of H1N1 influenza and its pathogenic ability, but more importantly, the research will improve the accuracy and speed of a test reagent used to diagnose suspected cases of the disease.

Health Minister Chen Zhu announced on April 30 that Chinese disease control experts and scientists had developed an effective test reagent for H1N1 diagnosis.

Since the influenza outbreak was announced by the World Health Organization last month, more than 4,000 confirmed cases had been reported in 29 countries by last night.

In Hong Kong, a 25-year-old Mexican was released from hospital quarantine on Friday night after recovering from swine flu.

The Chinese CDC has invited the WHO and US disease control experts for discussions with Chinese experts on how to control the spread of the virus.

Qiang said the US had proved that H1N1 influenza could be discovered by regular surveillance.

Many disease control experts believe that since the mainland has thus far not recorded a case, it has more time to prepare for a possible new outbreak in the autumn and winter.

Dong Xiaoping, an epidemic scientist with the CDC, said that swine flu virus seemed to be weaker than earlier pandemics based on the development of infections in the US.

"We can't say the virus' transmission capacity is decreasing based on current information," Dong said. "But the capacity is limited."

Although the samples donated by the US will be helpful, the Chinese drug watchdog said they could not be used to produce human vaccines against swine flu.

Yan Jiangying, spokeswoman with the State Food and Drug Administration, said on Friday that all seasonal human flu vaccines in China were only permitted to be made based on virus samples provided by the WHO.


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