Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bloomberg Updates The Baxter Vaccine Mishap Story

PLEASE SEE March 17th Update of this story.  Some of the Original newspaper accounts had incorrect details.

A Few More Details On The Baxter Mishap


# 2827

In what could have been a major incident, Baxter International in Austria accidentally sent vaccine samples contaminated with the H5N1 virus to labs in In the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Germany.

The problem was only discovered after lab ferrets began dying after receiving the vaccine (see Ferreting Out A Problem In the Laboratory).  

While early details of this case came out on February 17th, we've not heard much since then.

Jason Gale and Michelle Fay Cortez of Bloomberg news have delved deeper into this disturbing story, and bring us fresh details.  Follow the link to read the story in its entirety.

Baxter’s Vaccine Research Sent Bird Flu Across European Labs
By Michelle Fay Cortez and Jason Gale
Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Researchers from Baxter International Inc. in Austria unintentionally sent samples contaminated with the bird flu virus to laboratories in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany, raising concern about the potential spread of the deadly disease.
The contamination was discovered after ferrets were injected with the vaccine, according to BioTest s.r.o, a biotechnology company based in Konarovice that was working with the immunization in the Czech Republic.
The vaccine came from Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter, which reported the incident to the Austrian Ministry of Health, Sigrid Rosenberger, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said in a telephone interview today. The vaccine was prepared for use in laboratories, and none of the workers exposed have fallen ill.
“This was infected with a bird flu virus,” Rosenberger said. “There were some people from the company who handled it. They went to the hospital and were tested and were cleared. There have been no infections.”
The Austrian health ministry reported the incident to the European Union and plans to conduct its own audit, she said. The vaccine has been destroyed, according to Rosenberger.
Chris Bona and Laura Grossmann, Baxter spokespeople, didn’t immediately return phone calls placed before business hours. Roland Bettschart, who handles media enquiries for Baxter in Vienna, said a “laboratory glitch” occurred and the company would send a formal statement soon.
The World Health Organization “is aware of the situation and is consulting with the ministers of health of the countries involved to ensure that all public risks arising from this event have been identified and managed appropriately,” said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman in Geneva.
(Continue . . .)


Anonymous said...

So how do you "accidentally" contaminate a vaccine? Baloney.

Anonymous said...

Where is the rest of the story?

Anonymous said...

You can´t "accidentaly" contaminate a vaccine.

As explained on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosafety_level#Biosafety_level_3):

"Laboratory personnel have specific training in handling pathogenic and potentially lethal agents, and are supervised by competent scientists who are experienced in working with these agents. This is considered a neutral or warm zone. All procedures involving the manipulation of infectious materials are conducted within biological safety cabinets or other physical containment devices, or by personnel wearing appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment. The laboratory has special engineering and design features."