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GlobalData reports the need to shift away from egg-based manufacturing of vaccines in light of influenza-related deaths.
On March 7, 2018, GlobalData, a data and analytics company, reported the need for vaccine manufacturers to modernize the commercial production of seasonal influenza vaccines. The company cited February 2018 statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 97 influenza-related pediatric deaths for the 2017-2018 influenza season, which GlobalData noted was "an alarmingly high number compared with recent years", in a company press release.
GlobalData stated that these statistics "reinforce the need to shift away from the traditional chicken egg-based approach of mass production of commercial influenza vaccines, which commonly induces a suboptimal immune response".
The company believes that vaccine manufacturers should increasingly adopt more modern processes for the mass commercial production of seasonal influenza vaccines, namely processes developed from cell and recombinant vaccine construction technologies. These technologies are capable of producing vaccines that are better designed to deal with circulating strains of influenza virus, according to GlobalData.
The traditional egg-based vaccine manufacturing process carries inherent limitations that undermine the potential antibody-antigen binding affinity needed to achieve consistently high vaccine efficacy from season to season. Specifically, the egg substrate contains hereditary constraints that increase the antigen differentiation between the vaccine being constructed via egg and the region of the virus surface-protein antigen targeted by the vaccine. This results in a decrease in binding affinity of the induced antibodies created from a mismatched vaccine, as stated by GlobalData.
In contrast, cell-based and recombinant vaccines are not similarly constrained in design because their vaccine propagation is not egg-based. Cell-based and recombinant vaccine production can also be completed more quickly than egg-based production, which can provide more effective seasonal influenza vaccine, according to the company.
"In order to best facilitate this shift away from egg-based technology, governments must modernize their partnerships with vaccine manufacturers. Current surveillance by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other institutions revolves around the [six-to-eight]-month egg-substrate vaccine timeline. Overall vaccine efficacy improves with the newer technologies if their quicker manufacturing times are combined with government-provided seed virus submissions from increased surveillance at the global level for mutations in the antigenic target of flu vaccines," said Gilbert Saint Jean, PhD, healthcare analyst at GlobalData, in a company press release.
Based on the public outcry from the 2017-2018 seasonal influenza outbreak, along with the national security implications of a future severely virulent influenza pandemic, GlobalData believes that the transition to non-egg vaccine mass production technologies should be expedited. The company believes that newer technologies demonstrate reliability, safety, and increased average vaccine efficacy. It also notes that further improvement in vaccine efficacy can be gained if trials of universal influenza vaccines prove successful.