Swine flu scares up multibillion-dollar windfall

Swine flu has turned out to be far milder than once feared, but it's lethal enough to scare up billions of dollars in new vaccine orders.

France is the latest European country to put in its order, spending $1.4 billion to gain enough new vaccine from three of the world's largest manufacturers to inoculate three quarters of the country's population. Germany and the U.K. have ordered their own stockpiles while officials at the CDC contemplate a fall campaign that will provide anywhere from 40 million to 160 million doses. And health officials say that children may have to look forward to four jabs after school begins as they line up for shots for both seasonal as well as H1N1 flu.

The multibillion-dollar windfall has pushed vaccine makers to work around the clock to push new jabs into the clinic. Novartis says it expects to begin human testing on its new vaccine later this month--with plans to use both traditional egg-based as well as faster cell-based manufacturing technology. And other manufacturers insist they're also close to having the data they need to get an approval.

Much of the current focus is on outbreaks reported in the southern hemisphere, in particular Argentina, Chile and Australia. But new cases are also popping up all over the northern hemisphere, while health officials brace for a second wave of swine flu in the fall that they fear could prove more lethal than the strain now circulating around the globe.

We've assembled the latest swine flu news over at FierceVaccines.