How is the Swine Flu Vaccine Being Developed?
The swine flu vaccine is being developed by various companies and there are many ways to produce it. However, 90% of the companies are using the traditional method. The swine flu viruses are being grown inside of fertilized eggs, the most common approach used for influenza vaccines. A small amount of virus is injected inside the eggs where it replicates over a period of time. The key proteins that invoke an immune response are removed from the egg and purified to obtain the flu virus only. It is then treated by an attenuation method. This prevents it from replicating inside of the body. Then it is combined with some form of stabilizer, adjuvant and preservative. Finally, it is tested and packaged into syringes for distribution.
Novartis and Baxter have both used a different technology to grow the virus. They both used cell culture as opposed to chicken eggs because it is a much quicker method. Novartis have also used a particular adjuvant which has raised concerns. An adjuvant is a substance used to increase the body’s immune response. Consequently, usage of the adjuvant has led them to claim that only 1 shot is required for lifetime immunity.
The swine flu vaccine is in limited availability at the moment. This is because the H1N1 strain was not predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO decides which 3 seasonal flu vaccines are to be produced each year, depending on their forecast. Many companies are gearing up their production of swine flu vaccine at the expense of the seasonal flu vaccine, meaning that more will become available in the following months and next year.