Feds earmark $2B for new, faster vaccine tech

Tools

U.S. health officials have taken some of the lessons they learned during the swine flu pandemic to heart. And now they're taking action to prevent a recurrence of crucial problems that slowed vaccine development projects last fall.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is spending $2 billion to improve vaccine technology with an eye to cutting the amount of time between the development and production of a new vaccine. CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden says that the government wants to develop new tools to optimize the strains identified for making a vaccine, a key bottleneck that slowed scientists involved in the round-the-clock effort to make a new swine flu vaccine. And they want a new approach to identify the correct amount of antigen in a vaccine, another problem that emerged in the pandemic.

"We want new technologies, we want game changers, but we should also tweak what we've got now to be able to make a big difference today," Frieden told reporters. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has also stepped up with a few new suggestions of its own.

PCAST wants to see new and improved vaccine production facilities, with new incentives for improved machinery. Improving potency assays "should be a high-priority effort," according to an in-PharmaTechnologist report, while new incubation technology could shave a week off the process.

- here's the WSJ story
- read the in-PharmaTechnologist report

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