Making vaccines faster

    The H1N1 swine flu vaccine continues to roll out around the country. Vaccine developers say the production has been a giant, and successful, feat. But dozens of vaccine makers are in Wilmington this week discussing ways to make the process better.

    The H1N1 swine flu vaccine continues to roll out around the country. Vaccine developers say the production has been a giant, and successful, feat. But dozens of vaccine makers are in Wilmington this week discussing ways to make the process better.

    Listen:

    [audio:091013kgvaccine.mp3]

    It took six months to go from an outbreak of an unknown strain of flu in Mexico, to public health departments in the US receiving shipments of vaccine to prevent that flu.

    Bill Egan is the Vice President of the drug consulting firm, Pharmanet. He says this year’s H1N1 swine flu pandemic demonstrates the need for fast and flexible ways of making vaccine.

    Egan: Everybody was thinking H5N1 avian flu pandemic for that, getting stockpiles of that vaccine, testing that vaccine, and then out of the blue comes this H1N1.

    Alan Shaw is the CEO of New Jersey-based company, VaxInnate.

    Shaw: This has been a very fortunate, in an odd way, a fortunate exercise because we had a surprise. We had been expecting avian outbreaks for the last 5 or 6 yrs. So it’s been birds birds birds birds…pigs! Oh, that’s unusual.

    Shaw says it’s fortunate because the swine flu has been relatively mild, unlike the more deadly avian flu.

    His company and a number of others visiting Wilmington are developing methods that could cut down that 6-month production time to several weeks — Something Shaw says could take a few years to develop, but hopefully in time for the next pandemic.

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