First cell-based influenza vaccine plant dedicated

The first cell-based influenza vaccine plant was recently dedicated in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

The plant, the first of its kind in the United States, was developed as part of an initiative to ensure that vaccine supplies would be available in an influenza pandemic. The facility is capable of making vaccine by using cultured animal cells instead of the conventional method that relies on fertilized eggs.

The newer method, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is faster and more flexible.

The project is a public-partnership between HHS and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. Under existing terms, the partnership will be under contract for the next 25 years.

“Today we’re marking the first change in influenza vaccine manufacturing in the United States in 50 years,” Dr. Robin Robinson, who lead the effort for HHS and is the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, said. “The pandemic readiness of this facility is a major milestone in national preparedness for pandemic influenza and other diseases.”

It is expected that the new facility could, during an epidemic, supply one-quarter of the vaccine quantity needed in the United States. The technology and equipment in the lab can also be used to manufacture seasonal flu vaccine as well as vaccines for emerging infectious diseases.