Swiss drugmaker begins testing swine flu vaccine
LONDON - Swiss drugmaker
The vaccine is being tested in a yearlong trial of 6,000 people of all ages in Britain, Germany, and the United States, Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff said, adding that the vaccine will probably be on the market before the trial is completed.
A person in Britain became the first to get the Novartis swine flu vaccine about 10 days ago, he Althoff said.
Sanofi-Pasteur, a French company that makes about 40 percent of the world’s flu vaccines, expects to start testing its swine flu vaccine within days in the United States and Europe, spokesman Benoit Rungeard said.
Since swine flu was declared to be a pandemic, or global outbreak, by the World Health Organization in June, pharmaceutical companies have been racing to get their vaccines ready. Last month Australian drugmaker CSL became the first vaccine maker to start testing its vaccine in humans in Australia.
Half of Novartis’s vaccines being tested are grown in chicken eggs, the traditional way of making flu vaccines, while the other half use a new cell-based technology.
The trial will test the vaccine’s safety and whether one or two shots are necessary.
“Our assumption is that two doses will be required,’’ Althoff said.
The vaccines being tested in Europe have an adjuvant, an ingredient used to boost the body’s immune response. In the United States, Althoff said, Novartis will be testing its vaccines with and without adjuvants.
WHO recommends that countries use vaccines with adjuvants, to stretch the global supply of swine flu vaccine.
Flu vaccines in Europe often contain adjuvants. However, there are no licensed flu vaccines with adjuvants in the United States.