H1N1 vaccine production in earliest stages

    Vaccine producers are taking steps to develop a flu shot that would prevent infections from the swine flu, or H1N1, that is circulating aroung the globe.

    Vaccine producers are taking steps to develop a flu shot that would prevent infections from the swine flu, or H1N1, that is circulating around the globe. That could take six months, but researchers are looking for new ways to speed up the process.
    (Photo: CDC)

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    Each year, vaccine producers have to predict which flu strains are likely to emerge and design flu shots a year in advance. With new strains of flu, like H1N1, the vaccine comes after the strain emerges. At a press conference today, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they have not decided whether full-scale vaccine production will go ahead. University of Pennsylvania professor David Weiner says a conventional vaccine could still be applicable if the virus is around during the next seasonal flu season.

    Weiner: I think in theory now that the sequences are available there’s a very strong network of people that can work to make these different approaches available in time for the population.

    Scientists like Weiner would like to eliminate the guessing or waiting.

    Weiner:
    Our focus is different in that we’ll make a universal vaccine that will be available beforehand and will not need to be made to match each strain each time but will automatically be pre-designed to do that.

    Weiner has already tested a universal flu vaccine in animals exposed to avian flu, and says it seemed to work. Now he’s waiting to get hold of the H1N1 virus and do the same tests. He says any success would not be applied to making a vaccine for these latest outbreaks, but only for future pandemics.

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