Company works on experimental Swine Flu vaccine - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Company works on experimental Swine Flu vaccine

SPOKANE, Wash. - Another day and around the country more reports of Swine Flu, the H1N1 virus.

Federal health authorities are racing the clock trying to decide whether to make a Swine Flu Vaccine; a process that would takes months.

Technology could cut production times in half; making the vaccines is the easy part but getting them approved for widespread use is not.

Three schools closed Friday in New York alone.

Swine flu is continuing its march across the United States. With it comes concern and questions including will there be a vaccine and how soon?

Right now, flu vaccines are grown in eggs; it could take six months to mass produce and reach your doctor.

Only then will scientists know whether they've hit a viral bulls eye that's always moving.

"You won't know for sure till you know what's circulating in the following season," said Dr. Richard Besser, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five years ago, the U.S. ran out of flu shots mid-season.

That's when attention shifted to faster production methods.

Novavax is one of many companies developing cell-based technology
Which could crank out a vaccine in just three months.

"Which is at least half the time traditional manufacturing take to produce vaccine," said Dr. Rahul Singhvi of Novavax.

Scientists create particles that look just like the real virus on the outside without the inner genetic material.

"So these things can be sensed by the immune system as if the immune system is affected by the natural virus. And it elicits appropriate immune response to fight these particles," said Singhvi.

The FDA needs larger trial before it approves this new technology and the world health organization says it's too risky to rush.

"There is a big leap of faith to say that a few dozen individuals have been vaccinated, and so you can take that very same product therefore let's give to millions of people," said Dr. Marle-Paule Kleny of the World Health Organization.

Drug giant Novartis says it's already using cell-based production in Germany and hopes to use the lessons learned there to bring the technology here.
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