US flu vaccine manufacturing network looks to increase capacity by 20%

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

The vaccine manufacturing network will increase pandemic capacity
The vaccine manufacturing network will increase pandemic capacity

Related tags: Flu vaccine, Influenza vaccine, Influenza

The US Department of Health and Human Services has awarded almost $40m (29m Euros) in contracts to four contract flu vaccine manufacturers as part of an effort to increase fill and finish capacity by 20%.

The contracts awarded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) include $8.7m for Cook Pharmica, $7.6m for JHP Pharmaceuticals, $12.8m for DSM Pharmaceuticals, and $10.6m for Nanotherapeutics.

The four companies are expected to have the capacity to fill and finish 117 million doses of flu vaccine in 12 weeks. HHS's three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADMs) are also expected to add production capacity for another 150 million doses in 12 weeks, for a total increase of 267 million doses in 12 weeks.

No longer will fill and finish manufacturing be the limiting factor in making pandemic influenza vaccines or other products available in a public health emergency​,” said BARDA Director Robin Robinson, PhD in a statement. “The fill and finish manufacturing network will be an integral part of other national assets that address the need for timely manufacturing of medical countermeasures to respond to man-made and natural threats​.”

Each of the four companies will partner with a pandemic influenza vaccine manufacturer to transfer the fill and finish technology into its existing facilities to provide surge capacity for a pandemic response.

The fill and finish manufacturing network are also expected to provide services for manufacturers of drugs and vaccines intended to protect public health against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

HHS did not respond to a request for comment as all non-essential employees are still furloughed.

Speeding Vaccine Manufacturing

HHS established programs in 2010 to support development of high production influenza virus vaccine seeds, develop and validate better and faster potency assays and reagents for influenza vaccines, and develop and validate more sensitive and faster sterility assays. 

Collaborations between BARDA, CDC (Centers for Disease Control), FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease) have resulted in a rapid sterility assay by more than a week the time it takes to produce and test flu and other vaccines.

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