Mainland vaccine manufacturers will receive swine flu seed virus this week as the state drug administrator fast-tracks approval for vaccine production. Of the 11 pharmaceutical companies qualified for production on the mainland, Hualan Biological Engineering in Xinxiang, Henan , and four or five vaccine companies in Dalian, Liaoning, have the seed virus strain, according to Yin Hongzhang, head of the State Food and Drug Administration's biological production office. 'I estimate all the companies will get the virus strain within this week,' Mr Yin said yesterday. '[They] are all active in research and development ... because the flu is a new type of H1N1 flu, so the new virus production must undergo certain procedures and use a certain evaluation [method] to choose its best and most effective dosage and schedule. 'Production of the first batch of vaccine depends on the seed virus strain. I estimate we will finish research and development and evaluation at the highest speed.' Mr Yin said last week that the first batch of vaccines was expected to be produced as early as late next month, and Health Minister Chen Zhu said the first batch of vaccinations would occur by September. 'We said with confidence that we could produce 360 million doses of vaccine a year,' Mr Yin said. The administration issued a notice last Tuesday asking vaccine manufacturers to contact the World Health Organisation to obtain the seed virus as soon as possible and conduct the research necessary before production. With regard to fast-tracking approval for vaccine production, the administration allows vaccine manufacturers to apply to it directly for approval, while provincial-level drug administrators conduct on-site assessments and take samples at the same time. The National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, the country's highest-level medicine-quality arbiter, will arrange quality checks as soon as possible. Administration spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said the vaccine, once produced, would be applied to the vulnerable after evaluation by health authorities depending on the scale of any epidemic and the group. 'Not everyone needs vaccination, and it depends on the risk and vulnerability of the group,' she said. 'I believe the sales of vaccine will be co-ordinated, and panic buying will not happen.' Mr Yin also said officials could not tell exactly whether the vaccine developed now would still be effective in autumn and winter if the swine flu virus mutated.