Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 1:49 am Post subject: Path to swine flu vaccine has major hurdles
National and international health authorities have begun the first steps in manufacturing a vaccine against the novel H1N1 swine influenza, though they appeared to disagree over whether full-scale manufacturing will move forward.
The current seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against the novel virus.
This year's seasonal vax is currently is being manufactured for the northern hemisphere. Some manufacturers are done and can be ready to start a limited-production test of the new virus if necessary.
But some manufacturers have had difficulty growing one of the three major seasonal vaccine components, a strain that induces immunity to the family of viruses known as influenza B.
"Some may be 60% through, some may be a little bit less, and not the same level either for the three components," Kieny said.
"We are in discussion with them to try to see at what moment it might be the best solution to stop the seasonal and to start the pandemic formula."
Rumors are circulating among some flu scientists that the strain being used at the CDC for the vaccine seed strain is not growing well in eggs. The WHO and CDC appeared to acknowledge this Friday, disclosing that they are preparing two seed strains for manufacturers: one that was naturally reassorted by allowing viruses to mix in eggs, and another tuned via a patented process called reverse genetics that cuts and pastes genes from the swine virus with a non-pathogenic virus in order to achieve the highest possible growth rate. Manufacturers will be allowed to choose, the agencies said.
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