H1N1 slow to reproduce in eggs, a key part of antiquated vaccine process

updated 5:50 p.m. ET, Wed., Oct . 21, 2009

SWIFTWATER, Pa. – The federal government originally promised 120 million doses of swine flu vaccine by now. Only 13 million have come through.

As nervous Americans clamor for the vaccine, production is running several weeks behind schedule, and health officials blame the pressure on pharmaceutical companies to crank it out along with the ordinary flu vaccine, and a slow and antiquated process that relies on millions of chicken eggs.

There have been other bottlenecks, too: Factories that put the precious liquid into syringes have become backed up. And the government itself ran into a delay in developing the tests required to assess each batch before it is cleared for use.

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