The elimination of egg-based flu vaccines may be easier said than done, but it could be more of a long-term solution than anything that will happen in the short term. In this exclusive video Richard Webby, PhD, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis and director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds, discusses ongoing issues with egg-based vaccines and promising ones new treatments against the flu that are coming into the pipeline.
Following is a transcript of his remarks:
Right now, we are really struggling with the way we use the seasonal flu vaccines in eggs because of the components, especially this H3N2 component, when you grow these viruses. And so we do flu vaccine. We grow the virus and then we inactivate it, break it up and use it as a vaccine. What happens to some of these H3N2 when it comes in eggs is that it alters a bit. And that means that the viruses out there in nature are not as accurate as we had hoped. And I think that is certainly helping to bring this whole discussion about the vast majority of global food and influenza vaccine to eggs, and we should get away from it, I think.
Should we get rid of the eggs completely? There is an argument to say no that it is a technology that has served us well for some 40 years. The manufacturing capacity already exists, and that's important too. It's not just a question of how good your vaccine is, but you need to have enough doses to really vaccinate people. And if we have a compromise between maybe a bit of vaccine, but less cans versus something that's year by year, a few years better than others but can produce the cans, I think that's another argument we have need another discussion. So I think there's likely to be some movement, a revived discussion about turning away from eggs, but personally I can hardly imagine that [eggs] will disappear, at least in the near future. [1
One of the most exciting things about flu treatment over the last few years is the development of a new class of anti-flu medicines. And again, these work a bit differently than vaccine, where they can be used to actually treat an infection after you catch it, where a vaccine protects you from getting or at least getting a disease.
We & # 39; In recent years, we have essentially relied on a class of flu viruses, and this is the neuraminidase inhibitor. Maybe many of you have heard of Tamiflu. This new class of drug targets a completely different part of the virus than our existing drugs. It is a product that is licensed in Japan and one of the selling points of this drug is that it is a tablet. So, instead of some of the neuraminidase inhibitors that are a 5-day course, this is a single tablet taken once. This is being reviewed by the FDA for use in the US and there is certainly hope that there will be some news before the end of the year.
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