Pharmas seem ready with swine flu vaccines
The World Health Organization (WHO) raised the threat level for swine flu on 11 June to pandemic status, the highest possible.
On 12 June, Novartis said it had produced its first batch of the vaccine for influenza AH1N1, the strain that triggered the WHO alert.
It is the first influenza pandemic since 1968, when Hong Kong flu killed 1 million people. There have been 28,000 cases of swine flu and 141 deaths in 74 countries since the A(H1N1) virus started in Mexico in late March.
Dow Jones Newswires reported pharmaceutical company Novartis released positive data on a vaccine for swine flu, a day after the WHO declared the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years.
They manufactured the vaccine weeks ahead of expectations using cell-based technology, allowing for production without the need to adapt the virus strain to grow in eggs.
It plans to start clinical trials with that vaccine in July and expects to get a license in the fall of 2009.
It is important the batch is “cell-based manufactured.” This enables Novartis to “beef up speed so you can have a vaccine in large quantities in the fall,” said Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss.
More than 30 governments have asked Novartis to supply the vaccine ingredients, the company said.
The WHO’s pandemic declaration will require all countries, including the dozens that have not yet reported any cases, to launch pandemic-prevention plans.
Rivals such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, and Solvay SA have recently said they have received orders for, or that they are ready to start production of vaccines to help protect against the new swine flu virus.
Some companies already sell anti-viral drugs that are effective against new influenza A (H1N1) virus, and they include Switzerland’s Roche Holding AG with Tamiflu, and U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline with its Relenza.
The U.S. has set aside $1 billion to buy vaccine.
Nicholas Sheble (email@example.com) writes and edits Government News.