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GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) — The number of confirmed swine flu cases across the globe kept rising Friday, but some signs of hope emerged in the battle against the worldwide outbreak.
Tourists sunbathe wearing surgical masks in the popular Mexican resort of Acapulco.

Tourists sunbathe wearing surgical masks in the popular Mexican resort of Acapulco.
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Scientists are working to develop vaccines to confront the flu, and one Mexican politician cited evidence that the virus is “letting up.”

The World Health Organization said Friday that the number of confirmed cases stood at 331. That number does not include 32 additional cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in the United States, which brought the American total to 141.

The additional CDC cases would bring the worldwide total to 363 — and counting.

Meanwhile, researchers raced to develop a vaccine for swine flu, which is also known as 2009 H1N1.

The CDC hopes to have a vaccine to manufacturers within a month, said Michael Shaw, lab team leader for the H1N1 response at the CDC.

“We’re doing the best we can as fast as we can,” he said.

Yet it would take four to six months from the time the appropriate strain is identified before the first doses become available, said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research.

“Of course we would like to have a vaccine tomorrow. We would have wanted to have it yesterday,” she said. “It’s a long journey.”
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She said there is “no doubt” that a vaccine can be made “in a relatively short period of time.”

That optimism stems from scientists’ breakthroughs in developing other vaccines.

“The reality is that from the time the potentially pandemic virus is identified, it takes between 4 and 6 months to have the first doses of vaccine coming out of the factory and being available for immunizing people,” said Kieny.

The steps involved in producing a vaccine involve isolating a strain of the virus, which has already been done, and tweaking it so manufacturers can make a vaccine, Kieny said.

The tweaked virus will be shipped to manufacturers, who will fine-tune it. Then come more tests before national regulatory agencies decide whether to approve a vaccine.

As researchers work, at least one politician at the epicenter of the outbreak expressed optimism Friday.

Authorities in Mexico are “beginning to see evidence that the [virus] might be letting up, and the number of people who have been hospitalized has leveled out in regards to people who are contagious, at least as of yesterday,” Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard told reporters. Video Watch how Mexican authorities are dealing with the outbreak »

“I do not say this so that we lower our guard or so that we think that we do not have a problem anymore,” he said.

“We do have a problem, but I say this so that we know where we are as a city after we have done all we have done, and in what direction we are heading and how much we have progressed. And what I can say is that we are heading in the right direction.”

The WHO said Mexico has 156 confirmed cases and nine deaths. Mexican authorities say there have been 15 deaths, at least 358 confirmed cases, and more than 150 deaths suspected to have been caused by the flu. Video Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta demystify pandemics »

The CDC gave the following state-by-state breakdown of confirmed H1N1 cases for the United States: Arizona, 4; California, 13; Colorado 2; Delaware, 4; Illinois, 3; Indiana, 3; Kansas, 2; Kentucky, 1; Massachusetts, 2; Michigan, 2; Minnesota, 1; Nebraska, 1; Nevada, 1; New Jersey, 5; New York, 50; Ohio, 1; South Carolina, 16; Texas, 28; and Virginia, 2. See where cases have been confirmed »

One death in the United States has been attributed to swine flu — a toddler from Mexico whose family brought him to Texas for medical treatment.

In a Cabinet meeting, President Obama on Friday praised the “extraordinary” government response to the virus but emphasized that “we also need to prepare for the long term.”

“Since we know that these kinds of threats can emerge at any moment, even if it turns out that the H1N1 is relatively mild on the front end, it could come back in a more virulent form during the actual flu season, and that’s why we are investing in our public health infrastructure.” Video Go behind the scenes at the CDC »

He said there are indications from Mexico that “relatively young, healthy people” have died rather than people whose immune systems are compromised and “that’s why we’re taking it seriously.”

“So I just want everybody to be clear that this is why this is a cause for concern but not alarm. We are essentially ensuring that, in the worst case scenario, we can manage this appropriately, government working with businesses and individuals, the private sector, and containing an outbreak and that we can, ultimately, get through this.”

In addition to Mexico and the United States, WHO said, the following countries have confirmed cases: Austria 1; Canada 34; Germany 3; Israel 2; Netherlands 1; New Zealand 3; Spain 13; Switzerland 1; and the United Kingdom, 8. Learn about the virus »

Health officials in Denmark and China each said Friday they had confirmed the first cases of swine flu in their respective countries, but the WHO has not yet confirmed those findings. pay for college homework

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