24 February 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
The Department of Health today awarded contracts to pharmaceutical firms Baxter and Chiron to supply around 3.5 million doses of H5N1 bird flu vaccine.
The contracts are worth £33 million and the vaccine is scheduled for delivery in May and October.
The DH said five tenders were received and the bids from Baxter and Chiron stood out because of their technical and scientific requirements as well as providing the best value for money.
The department said the contract award is part of the government's preparation for a possible flu pandemic.
It said the vaccine will be used to carry out further research and could also be used to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers before a specific flu vaccine can be developed.
The DH's Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan
is published on its website at www.dh.gov.uk
In it, the DH makes clear it will lead on purchasing and supplying a pandemic vaccine on behalf of the whole of the UK.