Young people should get antivirals first if the swine flu pandemic behaves like the 1918 flu and supplies are scarce, according to Italian researchers.
The study modelled swine flu spread and found giving the elderly antivirals would not reduce deaths, but could increase resistance, if the flu mainly kills young people.
Some research suggests swine flu – like the 1918 flu – causes most deaths in the under 30s.
The elderly should get antivirals first if swine flu behaves like the 1969 – 70 pandemic and mostly kills older people, the study found.
The WHO recommends countries have enough antivirals to treat 25% of the population, but some countries fall well below this level.
The study was published online in the open access journal, BMC infections diseases.