Global influenza vaccine makers have produced a record variety of doses for the approaching flu season, as authorities attempt to ease the burden on hospitals forward of an anticipated COVID-19 resurgence.
In the US, pharmaceutical companies plan to make round 196 million doses to serve the inhabitants of 330 million, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That is up from 175 million final yr, an 11 % improve.
Major pharmacy chain CVS, which administers flu vaccines with out prescription, is ordering 18 million doses, double the quantity in 2019.
Vaccine maker Seqirus plans to extend production by roughly 15 % within the US—from 52 million to 60 million doses, as does Sanofi—from 70 to 80 million.
“There’s been a huge demand from our customers from the healthcare system,” Sanofi’s Michael Greenberg, regional medical head for vaccines in North America, informed AFP.
Sanofi, Seqirus and GSK are the three greatest firms out there. GSK didn’t reply to a request for its vaccine production plans.
Sanofi shipped its first batches on July 22, three weeks sooner than in 2019.
The CDC estimates flu killed between 24,000 and 62,000 final yr.
Widespread flu vaccination might thus assist liberate hospital beds, a significant public well being measure to cushion the impression of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m really worried about the autumn,” Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University, informed AFP.
Gostin lately wrote an article within the Journal of the American Medical Association calling for a flu vaccine offensive, together with doubtlessly obligatory vaccines at faculties.
“People aren’t thinking about flu, they’re thinking about COVID,” he mentioned.
Americans are already among the many most vaccinated peoples towards the flu on the earth: vaccination is advisable from the age of six months.
Other international locations, corresponding to France, suggest it to individuals susceptible to problems, together with these 65 and older.
As a outcome, 63 % of kids and 45 % of adults have been vaccinated in 2018-2019. In the over-65 age bracket, the determine was 68 %.
But this yr, Americans might need to have a look at new locations to obtain their photographs.
“It’s going to be hard for people to get their flu vaccinations because they usually get it at work or at school, but many workplaces and many schools are closed,” mentioned Gostin.
Every yr the World Health Organization and nationwide well being authorities choose in February and March the 4 strains of influenza virus more than likely to be in circulation the next winter within the northern hemisphere.
Hundreds of thousands and thousands of eggs—the normal medium for incubating viruses earlier than inactivating them and making them into vaccines—are delivered to laboratories, with production persevering with by the spring, till syringes are stuffed in summer season.
In the United States, Sanofi carries out these processes in two factories within the states of Pennsylvania and New York.
The identical factories might produce a future vaccine towards the coronavirus—however for now there is no such thing as a competitors between the 2, mentioned Greenberg.
At any price, Washington has additionally given the corporate $2 billion to increase its production capability.
“There are no concerns for supply now,” mentioned Dave Ross, vp of economic operations in North America for Seqirus, including that the agency was working with companions to make sure ample vial and syringe production for future COVID-19 vaccines.
There are some causes for optimism.
Public well being practices like social distancing and masks sporting put in place to stem the coronavirus also needs to scale back the unfold of different respiratory diseases together with the flu.
“All of those things hopefully will pay dividends and there’ll be less flu around,” mentioned Henry Bernstein, a pediatrics professor on the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine who’s on a committee advising the CDC on immunization practices.
© 2020 AFP
Amid COVID-19 disaster, flu shot makers see record US production (2020, August 16)
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