SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

NVAC advises HHS on stockpiling of H7N9

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee met this week with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to advise it on whether or not to stockpile vaccines against the H7N9 influenza strain.

The H7N9 strain presents a viable threat to become a pandemic. It has been confirmed to be transmittable from human-to-human and over half of those infected with the virus died as a result. The NVAC and HHS met to discuss the best action plan against a potential pandemic, Fierce Vaccines reports.

Robin Robinson, director of HHS's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said there are many factors to consider when thinking about the real threat the virus poses to the U.S. population. Robinson said the committee was asking questions, such as who to vaccinate, which types of vaccines to include and what production costs and timing would be.

"Historically, H7 vaccines haven't provided a very rosy picture for us. We have our work cut out," Robinson said, according to Fierce Vaccines.

The committee is expected to come to a decision in the summer. Authorities have already decided season flu vaccine manufacturing should not be delayed and may consider switching to adjuvanted vaccines, which require fewer doses but pose a higher risk of narcolepsy.

Robinson argues adjuvanted vaccines spur a stronger immune response, which may help protect against the H7N9 strain, by default. Clinical trials for the vaccines will begin in August, Fierce Vaccines reports.