Novartis Produces First Batch of Swine Flu Vaccine

Cell-based technology credited with fast-track production of the vaccine
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- A day after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the H1NI swine flu virus a worldwide pandemic, the European drug maker, Novartis International AG, announced that it had produced the first 10 liters of swine flu vaccine.

In a press release, Novartis said it was able to produce the first vaccine weeks ahead of schedule by using cell-based manufacturing technology that makes it possible for vaccine production to begin once a pandemic virus strain is identified, without having to adapt it to grow in eggs, as with conventional vaccine production. The first vaccine batch will be used for evaluation and testing.

After testing, Novartis' cell-culture vaccine production facility located in Marburg, Germany, could potentially produce millions of doses each week, the company said. Meanwhile, the WHO declaration raises the outbreak status from phase 5, where it had remained for several weeks, to phase 6, the highest level.

"The virus is spreading under a close and careful watch. No previous pandemic has been detected so early or watched so closely, in real-time, right at the very beginning. The world can now reap the benefits of investments, over the last five years, in pandemic preparedness," said WHO director-general, Margaret Chan, M.D.

WHO Statement
Novartis Press Release

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