Cell-based vaccine plant approved for flu vaccine production

Federal officials have approved Novartis' Holly Spring, N.C.-based vaccine plant for the production of flu vaccines in the event of an influenza outbreak.
The $1 billion plant is the first U.S. plant to manufacture flu vaccines utilizing cultured animal cells as opposed to the currently prevalent egg-based method. Cell-based vaccine manufacturing may be better suited to respond to a demand surge in an influenza outbreak than the traditional production methods, Fierce Vaccines reports.
In the cell-based process, the virus is injected into lab-grown cell lines where it multiples until it is removed and inactivated for use in a vaccine. The process takes weeks instead of months, the vaccines created can be frozen for storage prior to flu season and they are less susceptible to contamination than perishable egg-based vaccines.
In the case of a pandemic, the facility could produce up to 25 percent of the country's vaccines. The technology could also be applied to emerging and known infectious diseases.
"Today we're marking the first change in influenza vaccine manufacturing in the United States in 50 years," Robin Robinson, the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said, according to Fierce Vaccines. "The pandemic readiness of this facility is a major milestone in national preparedness for pandemic influenza and other diseases."
The plant is part of a 25 year public-private partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services.