Maryn McKenna's 7-part Series on the Pandemic Vaccine Puzzle comes to an end today with Time for a vaccine 'Manhattan Project'?
Ms. Mckenna (author of Beating Back The Devil) proves, once again, why she is one of the best science writers in the business.
Here are the links to all 7 parts of this series.
The pandemic vaccine puzzle
Part 1: Flu research: a legacy of neglect
Part 2: Vaccine production capacity falls far short
Part 3: H5N1 poses major immunologic challenges
Part 4: The promise and problems of adjuvants
Part 5: What role for prepandemic vaccination?
Part 6: Looking to novel vaccine technologies
THE PANDEMIC VACCINE PUZZLE
Part 7: Time for a vaccine 'Manhattan Project'?
Maryn McKenna Contributing Writer
Editor's note: This is the last in a seven-part series investigating the prospects for development of vaccines to head off the threat of an influenza pandemic posed by the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The series puts promising advances in vaccine technology in perspective by illuminating the formidable barriers to producing large amounts of an effective and widely usable vaccine in a short time. Part 6 explored the potential of novel vaccine technologies such as using whole flu viruses or growing vaccines in cell cultures instead of in eggs.
Nov 2, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Although money for pandemic influenza vaccine research has begun to flow and results have picked up speed, there is widespread frustration that it all took so long.
"If we are serious about a pandemic, we should assume it is going to be imminent and we should be prepared as if it is imminent—not 10, 15 years down the road, but imminent," said David Fedson, MD, a retired vaccine industry executive who has published analyses of pandemic vaccine planning (see Bibliography: Fedson 2007: Author interview).
A chorus of calls to action
Calls have come from across the political spectrum for a more aggressive, better-funded, tightly organized research effort. Former Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist (R-Tenn.) called in August 2005 for a "Manhattan Project for the 21st century" (see Bibliography: Frist 2005). In the same month, Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News, recommended the creation of "an international project to develop the ability to produce a vaccine for the entire global population within several months of the start of a pandemic [that would be] a top priority of the Group of Seven industrialized nations plus Russia (the G-8)" (see Bibliography: Osterholm 2005).
Further, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group Trust for America's Health recommended in October 2006 that governments create a "multinational pandemic vaccine research and development master program" (see Bibliography: Trust for America's Health 2006), and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) echoed that call in January 2007, recommending an appropriation of $2.8 billion in such a project's first year (see Bibliography: IDSA 2007).
"An effort on the scale of the Apollo space project is required," the IDSA said.