The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is providing three sets of grants totaling $10.4 million to help the World Health Organization (WHO) strengthen the ability of developing countries to produce flu vaccine, potentially reducing the global threat from influenza.
The grants provided to the WHO will be used to assist developing countries with pandemic influenza vaccine manufacturing infrastructure, training on influenza vaccine manufacturing, and development and distribution of certain technologies for pandemic influenza vaccines.
"Diseases do not respect borders so increasing the ability to make flu vaccine in any country helps every country reduce the spread of flu," explained Robin Robinson, BARDA director. "While we continue to build vaccine manufacturing capacity in the United States, and develop new, faster technologies for producing vaccine domestically, we can increase pandemic preparedness worldwide by helping other countries take advantage of technology."
BARDA awarded a $6.4 million grant to the WHO as part of an ongoing international cooperative agreement in the Initiative for Vaccine Research. This funding will support requests to the WHO from developing countries to expand regulatory systems, construct and validate vaccine manufacturing facilities, and transfer new technology for recombinant or cell-based influenza vaccines.
Through this WHO initiative over the past five years, $40 million in U.S. funding has been used to develop vaccine manufacturing infrastructure in 10 countries: Egypt, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Romania, Serbia, and Thailand.
The second set of grants supports training on cutting-edge manufacturing techniques for WHO grantees. North Carolina State Universitys Biotechnology and Education Center received $861,000, and Utah States Center for Integrated Biosystems received $322,000, to train selected personnel from manufacturers in developing countries. Trainees will receive hands-on instruction in the latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration good manufacturing practices in vaccine production technology. These practices can be taken back and implemented by manufacturers in their native countries.
The third set of grants supports development of adjuvant and the transfer of technology to produce adjuvant. The use of adjuvants has been shown to reduce the amount of protein needed for flu vaccine to be effective, so the adjuvanted vaccine made in these countries could serve a greater number of people. The Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle received $790,000, and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland received $1.8 million, to develop adjuvants and other technologies that can be transferred without the restriction of intellectual property rights.