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Fading H1N1 scare leaves vaccine surplus

The influenza pandemic that swept the globe and fueled concern that millions would die has led to an unprecedented glut of vaccine as fewer people than expected have sought immunization.

Governments worldwide are left with surpluses of H1N1 vaccine due to sagging demand. Many are selling or donating the excess or slashing pending orders.

The world's biggest vaccine makers — GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Baxter International, Novartis and CSL — are seeing a potential $7.6 billion sales windfall shrink, analysts said.

The first flu pandemic in 40 years prompted a worldwide scramble in 2009 to secure supplies of vaccine against the H1N1 virus. When the disease turned out to be milder than predicted, people already wary about the shot's safety hesitated to get inoculated, and demand declined.

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