A new method for making flu vaccine will rely on animal cells, not chicken eggs. The new process is just as effective as the older method and much faster.
Scientists hope this will lead to a steadier supply of flu vaccine during flu season, and a faster response to flu pandemics. Right now, it takes six months to make a flu vaccine. The new method would shave weeks off that production schedule.
Cell-culture vaccines are already available in parts of Europe. This new study is a major step towards getting regulatory approval to sell them in the United States as well.
The New York Times reports that this large clinical trial was an unsurprising success. Experts in vaccines have long known they could be successfully grown in cell cultures. As one scientist put it in the New York Times:
“I just think it’s an improvement in vaccine production that has been warranted for a long time,” said Dr. W. Paul Glezen, an influenza expert at the Baylor College of Medicine who wrote a commentary to accompany the report, which was published online Tuesday by The Lancet. “I just feel we’ve been sort of slow in implementing it.”
It’s not clear when the drug companies working on this new vaccine technique will seek approval for it here in the United States, but it’s a promising step.
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Photo: Daniel Paquet