Chicken Eggs and Swine Flu

Jason Kottke explains how the H1N1 vaccine is made — including the step where part of the virus is injected into eggs, where it incubates for two to three days before being removed. The method calls for 1.2 billion chicken eggs to make 3 billion doses of the vaccine and is one of the reasons the vaccine-making process takes so long, the Associated Press reports. But the egg-based production method has been around for 50 years, and, as the AP reports, “most of the biggest vaccine makers have little incentive to switch from a method with which they are familiar.” [%comments]


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  1. Greg says:

    “Most of the biggest vaccine makers have little incentive to switch.”

    But that doesn’t address the question of whether researchers have developed better methods. Do they exist?

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  2. Bart Simpsons says:

    Novartis uses cell culture for Celtura.
    Protein Sciences uses insect eggs.
    Chicken eggs are soon gone from the process.

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  3. Craig says:

    The vaccine makers will switch only when the present value of the cost savings resulting from switching from the old method to the new method exceed the present value of the cost of obtaining FDA approval for the new process and the cost of any expected lawsuits that would arise from the use of a new method.

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  4. David says:


    Drug companies are not sued for vaccine injury. The government shields them from vaccine injury claims, which are instead processed through the Justice Dept.

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  5. Robert says:

    In response to Greg:
    It does not matter whether or not researchers have found a better way, if this way works and the researchers and pharmaceutical companies (Novartis) can still make the same revenue, they have no reason to speed up the process. It all comes down to incentives and money in the end for big pharmaceutical companies.

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  6. kip says:

    So do vegans refuse to get flu vaccines?

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  7. VladimirOrlovsky says:

    Federal health officials said Thursday that almost 10,000 people had died of swine flu since April, a significant jump from mortality numbers released last month.A month ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that only about 4,000 had died- ->
    4K or 10K ?
    it’s VeryBig difference for me.
    Farmers count cows much-much better,
    then US goverment counts people -VJO

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