Hong Kong is likely to have swine flu vaccines available before the winter flu season peaks, after four drug makers submitted bids to supply them. The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong said it had contacted various drug makers and found that four European companies - Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline - had put in bids. A Health Department spokesman said tender details would remain confidential until the announcement of the winning bid. The bids were in response to the second tender for vaccines. The government cancelled the first tender in August after no offer met its requirements. That led to fears that vaccines would arrive in the city months behind schedule. The government changed its requirements and launched another tender process last month. Under the plan, five million shots will be bought for this winter. A vaccine has to have been approved by the United States, the European Union or Australia. Reports have shown that the vaccines are 90 per cent effective in adults and 70 per cent effective in children and the elderly. The reports also indicate that the vaccines, which are injected, have minor side effects similar to those brought about by vaccines for seasonal flu, such as pain, swelling and headaches. No serious side effects have been reported since the vaccines began being used two months ago. Society vice-president William Chui Chun-ming said Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline produced vaccines registered internationally which were suitable for anyone aged six months or above. Chui said that as long as the government announced tender winners at the end of this month or in early November, manufacturers would be able to supply the vaccines on time. He said the government needed to act quickly since there was a global demand for the vaccine. If the European companies failed to supply the city with adequate vaccines, the government should consider amending its tender requirements and buying from mainland manufacturers, he suggested. 'Tens of thousands of [mainland] Chinese have already taken the jab [developed there]' and shown that the vaccine was safe, Chui said. Hong Kong authorities said last night that one more patient with swine flu had died, bringing the toll to 34. He was a 45-year-old with nasopharyngeal cancer, who died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Yau Ma Tei, on Thursday night. He was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia on October 10 and had been in a critical condition. He was confirmed to be infected with the flu on the same day. More than 33,000 people have tested positive for the virus - which is officially called (A)H1N1 - the Centre for Health Protection said.