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HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that the department will commit $884 million to purchase additional supplies of two key ingredients for potential H1N1 vaccine to further prepare the nation for a potential resurgence of the 2009 H1N1 virus.
“We recognize that preparedness is shared responsibility between federal, tribal, state, local governments, private organizations and individuals. We are doing our part to be as prepared as possible for the impact that this infectious disease could have on our country,” Sebelius said. “Vaccines may serve an important role in that preparedness. The action we are taking today will provide flexibility in a future immunization program, if a program is recommended.”
The funds will be used to place additional orders for bulk H1N1 antigen and adjuvant on existing contracts with Sanofi Pasteur, MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis. The vaccine ingredients will be as part of the pandemic stockpile, for use if a vaccination campaign is necessary.
Antigen is the active ingredient in a vaccine that causes the human body’s immune system to develop antibodies that help fight an invading virus. Depending on the results of clinical studies, adjuvant could be added to a vaccine to boost the immune system’s response and potentially reduce the amount of antigen necessary for the body to recognize and fight a virus.
In May, Sebelius directed approximately $1 billion to be used for the development of a vaccine and for clinical studies to determine dose level and assess the safety and effectiveness of potential vaccines.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response established the existing contracts with these companies in 2004 as part of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.