Monday, October 26, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Shortage: Why?

NPR asks Swine Flu Vaccine Shortage: Why?. There's not a lot of depth but there's at least something.

"Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say for months, the companies didn't realize how far short their vaccine 'yields' were falling. That's because they didn't have the chemicals — called reagents — that would have told them how much active ingredient they had in their vaccine production vats."

"Vaccine yield problems with swine flu are not new. Last July, vaccine manufacturers reported problems in growing the new H1N1 virus - or, rather, a hybrid of the swine flu virus and a standard vaccine virus strain - in chicken eggs. That's a crucial step in the current technology for making flu vaccines. However, CDC scientists thought those problems had been overcome. Unfortunately, not so. The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that some vaccine manufacturers have had only one-fifth the viral yield from chicken eggs that they expected."

So there's a shortage in vaccine production and the economy is weak, sounds like a business opportunity. And I think to differentiate yourself from the competition, someone should start marketing flu vaccine grown only in organic cage-free pastured eggs.


paul said...

Vaccine production is not a great business to be in. Attempts to develop an alternative to the slow and relatively inefficient chicken-egg incubation method have not been successful. And frankly a market with only one real customer - the U.S. gov't - for a product with low margins, lots of potential liability problems, no real synergies with other businesses, and frankly a very finnicky customer - well, not one I would want to get in to.

Anonymous said...

Paul has got it right. There were many more companies in the vaccine business 50 years ago than there are now. Just way too much risk (pediatric patient lawsuits are awesome for the lawyers) and too little reward.

So we have created an economy that rewards financial traders over vaccine innovators. We should really congratulate ourselves.

Goldman Sachs figured out how to make/steal (your choice) over 20 billion dollars for their bonus pool this year.

Wonder how much extra vaccine research or vaccine production that would have paid for?


Howard said...

My comment was really just an excuse to mention vaccines grown in organic eggs.

TT, you need to go take your meds :)

Anonymous said...

Prozac is a wonderful thing.

This is what I sound like when I take it......

For those readers who wish to avail themselves of some insight from Professor William Black, please follow the link below.

I am sure you will find his very measured and professional discourse far more palatable than mine.


ps. Yes, I realize this has nothing to do with eggs, organic eggs, or eggs involved in the production of vaccines. I apologize in advance for my confounding of the blogposts.

Karl said...

Shouldn't they be growing the swine flu virus in pigs rather than birds? Of course you still need to have a kosher version then.

Of course the whole idea of engineering or breeding a virus for better yields sounds a little off to me.