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WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced that the first U.S. facility to use a faster and more flexible technology to make influenza vaccine was dedicated as part of an initiative that could provide vaccine supplies sooner in an influenza pandemic.
The plant in Holly Springs, N.C., can create vaccine using cultured animal cells instead of the conventional process of using fertilized eggs. The facility is a public-private partnership of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. This partnership will be maintained under contract for at least 25 years, HHS announced.
“Today we’re marking the first change in influenza vaccine manufacturing in the United States in 50 years,” stated Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. “The pandemic readiness of this facility is a major milestone in national preparedness for pandemic influenza and other diseases.”
In an influenza pandemic, the new Novartis facility may be able to produce 25% of the vaccine needed in the United States. In addition, cell-based technology used in this facility for manufacturing seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines may be adapted to produce vaccines for other known and unknown emerging infectious diseases in an emergency.