Friday, May 05, 2006


The day after the White House unveiled a new plan to deal with a pandemic flu outbreak in the US, five companies have been awarded more than $1 billion in contracts to develop new influenza vaccines.

From the Melbourne Age : "The companies will work to develop cell based-vaccines to fight seasonal influenza or a pandemic strain. The new vaccines will be grown in labs in batches of cells called cell cultures, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said.

"The new method aims to replace older, egg-based systems, which require steady supplies of carefully grown eggs and months of cultivation.

"Experts have been urging the United States for years to help companies modernise influenza vaccine production. The current, 40-year-old technology is unwieldy and unreliable, and it takes months to determine how many vaccines will be available in a given year.

"HHS also has worried that almost all flu vaccines are made outside the United States. If countries acted to keep vaccine supplies for their own citizens during a pandemic, vaccines might not be available for Americans."

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