Novartis has announced that the first batch of its experimental H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine has been produced and is ready for testing.
The announcement comes only days after the World Health Organization declared the swine flu outbreak had officially reached pandemic status.
Novartis plans to begin clinical trials of the vaccine in July and licensing towards the end of the year.
The first 10l batch of the vaccine will be used for pre-clinical evaluation and testing, and is also being considered for use in clinical trials.
A Novartis spokesperson said the vaccine had been made in cells rather than grown in eggs and is yet to be tested on humans.
"As well as speed, another advantage of cell-based production is the ability to rapidly increase production, so the facility has the potential to produce millions of doses of vaccine each week," Novartis said.
The company's shares rose 4% following the announcement.