Analysts are predicting UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline will be hitting a £3 billion jackpot by the end of the year following demand for its swine flu vaccine Pandemrix.

Orders for the jab, which begin shipments this week, have jumped since August with an additional 22 government orders to supply a further 149 million doses of the vaccine. The total number of doses now ordered comes to 440 million.

The rise in demand has sparked City analysts to predict a £3 billion bounty for the drug giant with each vaccine believed to be selling for near on £5. However, profits will be lower when associated costs are taken into account.

GSK will also receive a financial boost from its anti-viral drug Relenza (zanamivir), which is being increasingly stockpiled along with rival Roche’s Tamiflu (oseltamivir).

Other drug companies manufacturing swine flu vaccines are also expected to cash in on the pandemic as well. Shipments of Novartis’ jab to the USA started in the last week of September to provide as much vaccine as early as possible in the face of fears a second wave will hit the northern hemisphere as it moves into winter. The company currently has two contracts with the US Department of Health and Human Services totaling $979 million.

As predicted, the numbers of swine flu cases have risen in the UK in the last few weeks since children returned to school. The Health Protection Agency estimated there were 14,000 new cases in England in the last week of September, which was up from 9,000 the week before.