Thursday, May 09, 2013

JAMA: Challenges Of Producing An Effective & Timely H7N9 Vaccine





# 7256


In just about every movie or TV show that features a deadly pandemic outbreak - when all seems about lost - noble lab-weary scientists roll out a last-minute experimental vaccine and save the world.  


Cue dramatic music, roll credits.


Given the reality of vaccine production and distribution, this is the modern equivalent of having a deity descend from the rafters in the final act of a Greek Play to conveniently dispatch any unsolvable problems; a Deus ex Machina (Latin: "god from the machine").


As we’ve discussed before, the logistics of producing and deploying a pandemic vaccine in sufficient quantity, and in time to have a major effect on an outbreak, are enormous (see H7N9 Vaccine Realities).


And as we learn from an analysis that appears in JAMA today - penned by  CIDRAP’s  Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH; Katie S. Ballering, PhD; and Nicholas S. Kelley, PhD – the obstacles facing the production of an H7N9 vaccine are likely to be even greater still.


Rather than try to pick and choose excerpts, I would invite you to follow the link and read:


Major Challenges in Providing an Effective and Timely Pandemic Vaccine for Influenza A(H7N9)

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH; Katie S. Ballering, PhD; Nicholas S. Kelley, PhD

JAMA. 2013;():1-2. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.6589.

Published online May 9, 2013

The emergence of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in humans has public health authorities around the world on high alert for the potential development of a human influenza pandemic. As of May 8, 2013, authorities had identified 131 confirmed cases and 32 deaths among residents of 8 provinces and 2 municipalities in China.


Three primary scenarios exist for how this A(H7N9) virus outbreak will unfold. First, the virus could disappear in the animal reservoir, ending new human cases. Second, the virus could persist in the animal reservoir, resulting in sporadic human infections. Third, the virus could, through mutation or reassortment, become readily transmissible between humans, resulting in a global pandemic.


(Continue . . .)


UPDATE: Just after I posted this blog, I discovered that Helen Branswell had published a long, and highly informative story that looks at this study, and Canada’s plans regarding vaccine testing.


Canada not planning H7N9 bird flu vaccine studies; will watch US results: PHAC

By: Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press



And for more on the challenges of vaccine effectiveness and production, you may wish to revisit this blog from last November:


CIDRAP: The Need For `Game Changing’ Flu Vaccines