Field of Science

Flu vaccine shortage

This is just a brief post to point out a news article on the wires today (from Agence France-Presse) quoting me at some length about the shortage of H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine in the U.S. The article discusses why the egg-based vaccine production method, which is woefully obsolete, needs to be replaced if we're to avoid such shortages. I also made a point about how risky it is for us (as a society) to be relying on chicken eggs for a virus that could wipe out chicken flocks. See the article at Yahoo news, here, or at the Daily Telegraph in the UK, here.

6 comments:

  1. Today's Washington Post had an interesting bit about some of the problems they have had with egg-based production

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/04/AR2009110403874.html?hpid=topnews

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  2. Though I'm reluctant to say "I told you so", this is exactly the problem that we (myself and others) have been warning about for years. We've got to replace the egg-based vaccine production methods. Much, much better methods are available, but the private sector isn't interested in going to all the trouble of getting FDA approval. The government needs to step up and develop - and approve - alternative production methods itself.

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  3. I though Novartis and another company were testing a cell-based vaccine for H1N1. Was that just testing or did it go into production?

    Wait, it looks like it is going into production...In Germany. Announced today

    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20091105-704413.html

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  4. Yes, and Baxter has a cell-based method too. The problem is that these are not FDA-approved, so they can't be used in the U.S. Someone has to invest the time and money first - until then, we (in the U.S.) can just keep coughing and sneezing.

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  5. I don't understand why there can still be
    shortage. They told us in 2005 we need cell-based vaccine because it can be scaled up.
    Now we have cell-based, but still shortage.
    Is egg-based just cheaper ?

    ReplyDelete

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