MedImmune announces that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded the company a contract to manufacture monovalent (single-strain) live attenuated influenza vaccine for novel influenza A (H1N1) to vaccinate priority populations identified by HHS in the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. An initial order of $90 million of vaccine has been placed, with the potential for additional orders. This project has been funded in whole or in part with the Federal funds from HHS/ASPR/BARDA, under Contract No. HHSO100200900002I.
MedImmune scientists have identified several promising vaccine candidates against the novel influenza A (H1N1) strain, and are currently evaluating their growth properties and antigenicity (i.e., their ability to stimulate antibodies) for mass production as part of the vaccine manufacturing process.
“MedImmune is pleased to be able to contribute our scientific expertise in influenza vaccine development and manufacturing to help combat this unpredictable public health threat,” said Ben Machielse, executive vice president of operations at MedImmune. “We are confident that our vaccine technology has several attributes that may be useful in protecting people with limited exposure to influenza against the novel influenza A (H1N1) strain.”
MedImmune’s live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) technology may be particularly well-suited for vaccinating against emerging influenza strains. LAIV is different from the injectable influenza vaccine in that it is a gentle mist sprayed into the nose, where the influenza virus usually enters the body. It contains live vaccine virus strains that are weakened so as not to cause the flu, but prompt the body to mount an immune response after the first dose. Because it is live and stimulates a broad range of immune responses, LAIV may offer some cross-protection against circulating flu strains that are “drifted” – meaning they are very closely-related but not perfectly matched to the flu strains in the vaccine. As a needle-free nasal spray, LAIV is well suited to facilitate mass vaccination, and has been widely used for school-based vaccinations and to help protect active-duty military personnel.