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Volunteers line up for Thai flu vaccine trial: GPO
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Thai Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) said several hundred volunteers have joined an clinical test program for production of A/H1N1 flu vaccine, as there are concerns that the spread of the flu in the country will accelerate over the next two months, Thai media reported Saturday.

According to Bangkok Post online, GPO chairman Wichai Chokewiwat said Friday that the list of first 24 volunteers will be announced on August 16 and they will be treated with FluMist nasal spray.

The human trial program is expected to get endorsement after a GPO board meeting on Tuesday, with another 200 volunteers to be selected later for a second test, he said.

There are fears that the outbreak will spread rapidly over the next two months, a period in which common flu usually peaks, said Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai, quoting an analysis by the ministry's Bureau of Epidemiology.

He said the outbreak will possibly continue until January and February next year, a transition period between the wet and cold seasons, also a time of likely common and seasonal flu epidemic, he said.

The trial program comes as a government flu-fighting campaign, "Join the Power to Fight 2009 Influenza", will soon be launched, said Dr. Mongkhol na Songkhla, a member of a government committee to curb and control the disease.

The campaign aims to protect more than 33 million people who are divided into seven categories, and the supervisory bodies of each category will respectively come up with a plan on how to protect each group of people.

The groups are: 20 million schoolchildren at primary and secondary levels; millions in universities and colleges; 2.6 million commuters using land and marine public transport each day; 2 million people who are military personnel and their families; Bangkok residents using public utilities such as public parks and markets; 9 million beneficiaries and laborers protected through various social welfare funds and benefits; and members of 6,746 administrative organizations across the country.

Witthaya, the public health minister, said greater public awareness along with extensive preventive measures that are already in place can be regarded as positive factors to help the outbreak under control. He called for good hygiene habits to be maintained - sick people should rest at home and good hand-washing routines should always be maintained.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2009)

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