GlaxoSmithKline has reached an agreement with the UK government to cap the amount of swine flu vaccine bought from the firm at 34.8 million doses.

The UK Department of Health and GSK say they have agreed on a final settlement that represents “fair value for the government and the manufacturer”. The 34.8 million cap includes stock that GSK had already produced for the UK “and could not reasonably retract”, and the DoH noted that there will be no cancellation fee.

The UK government has been looking to offload millions of doses of swine flu vaccine purchased when fears of a pandemic were at a high. It cancelled a contract for Baxter International’s Celvapan influenza A (H1N1) vaccine at the end of February.

Vaccine that has not been used will be kept “as a strategic reserve in case the virus causes a third wave of illness”, the government said, noting that will also continue to immunise remaining patients in priority groups, such as pregnant women. The UK also intends to donate 3.8 million doses of vaccine to the World Health Organization to boost immunity in Africa before the rainy season.

As part of the agreement, the DoH has agreed to purchase GSK’s H5N1 bird flu vaccine and courses of the antiviral Relenza (zanamivir) to replace the amount used during the swine flu outbreak. Health Secretary Andy Burnham said this deal means the UK will save one-third of the original value of the orders with GSK, though those figures have never been disclosed.

Mr Burnham went on to say that the probability of a bird flu pandemic, “which is likely to be more severe than swine flu, has not diminished”. The agreement “allows us to maintain our status as one of the most prepared countries in the world”.