Posted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:16 am Post subject: Novartis swine flu vaccine may work on fewer doses
BARCELONA, Spain - Swiss drugmaker Novartis said Thursday one of its swine flu vaccines may work with just one dose, rather than two as previously expected, a finding that could potentially boost global supplies.
In early results from human tests on one of its swine flu vaccine candidates, Novartis AG said one shot of its vaccine provided enough protection against the virus, as set out by criteria by U.S. and European drug regulators.
Most experts had thought two doses of vaccine would be necessary, since swine flu is a new virus to which virtually no one has immunity. On Thursday, China approved a swine flu vaccine which its producer, Sinovac, says also works with just one dose.
"The pilot results are encouraging," said Andrin Oswald, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics in a statement. "This is important information for public health authorities who prepare for vaccination in the coming months with limited vaccine supply."
The World Health Organization would not comment specifically on Novartis' vaccine since it had not yet seen the data. The agency said a number of companies were working on one-dose formulations which could theoretically increase the world's swine flu vaccine supplies.
Novartis said the results were based on a British trial of 100 people aged between 18 and 50, who received either one or two shots of its swine flu vaccine. It is also testing other swine flu vaccine formulations in more than 6,000 people worldwide.
According to Novartis, people who got two injections of vaccine had a better immune response, but just one injection also provided adequate protection, within two weeks of the vaccine being given.
It is still unclear, however, what this would mean for the global swine flu supply. Not every drugmaker could simply copy Novartis' vaccine recipe. Novartis' vaccine was made using cell culture, while about 90 percent of the world's flu vaccines are made using chicken eggs.
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