The United States will commit one billion dollars toward the purchase of ingredients for a swine flu vaccine, Washington's top health official said Sunday as US deaths from the virus continued to mount.
"There will be another one billion dollars worth of orders placed to get the bulk ingredients for an H1N1 vaccination," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN television Sunday, adding that the final vaccine likely will be ready by October.
"Congress has agreed with the president that this is the number one priority, keeping Americans safe and secure," she said, adding that US scientist are working "to get the shots in folks' arms."
Her remarks came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 211 US deaths from the A(H1N1) virus, with some 37,000 cases confirmed - the highest level of death and infection of any country in the world.
Officials have warned that the virus could return with a vengeance in the the coming months. The virus, already deemed at pandemic levels by global health experts, is in more than 100 countries and is continuing to spread.
Last week, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said clinical trials on a first candidate vaccine were expected to begin in August.
The tests would take "a couple of months" to determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective and what the appropriated dosage would be, Fauci said at a medical conference.