Scientist warns over pandemic flu vaccine 6-month time lag

Apr 27, 2009

New research published today (Monday April 27) from the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust warns of a six-month time lag before effective vaccines can be manufactured in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak.

By that time, the first wave of may be over before people are vaccinated, says Dr Iain Stephenson, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and a Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester.

In his paper published in PNAS- of the USA- Dr Stephenson makes the first case for a pre-pandemic to mitigate the worst effects of pandemic flu.

He said: "This study is the first to show an effective pre-pandemic vaccine approach. This means that we could vaccinate people potentially many years before a pandemic, to generate that are long lasting and can be rapidly boosted by a single dose of vaccine when needed."

Dr Stephenson, of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Leicester, said: "If an occurs, vaccination will to be the main way to protect the population. The major current threat seems to be from avian H5N1 () which has spread rapidly around the world and causes human infections and deaths.

"Unfortunately, if a pandemic occurs, it will take up to six months to manufacture effective vaccine, so the first waves of the pandemic may be over before people are vaccinated. Furthermore, most people need two doses of H5 pandemic vaccine to get protection- so this adds a further delay.

"To reduce any delay, we could consider stockpiling vaccine or immunizing people with vaccine prepared in advance -(a so called 'pre-pandemic vaccine' - to protect them before a future pandemic.

"However, we don't know which strain of influenza will cause the . There are several strains of H5N1 virus, so we can't be sure of which virus strain to make pre-pandemic vaccine from. Therefore a 'pre-pandemic' vaccine needs to give cross protection to as many H5 strains as possible."

Dr Stephenson and his team conducted a study comparing the effect of a single H5 bird flu vaccine dose to people who had been vaccinated with an H5 vaccine previously with people who had not previously received vaccine. The aim was the test out the idea of a pre-pandemic vaccination approach.

He said: "We found that those people who received H5 vaccine between 1999 and 2001 responded very well to a single dose of a newer H5 vaccine. They had memory cells that gave a rapid protective response within 7 days of the repeat vaccine. Also the response was very broad and able to protect against all known strains of H5N1 virus.

"In contrast, those people who had not been previously vaccinated with H5 vaccine, behaved as we had expected. They required 2 doses of vaccine and got good antibody responses up to 6 weeks after the first dose."

Dr Stephenson added that this was the first study to show an effective pre-pandemic vaccine approach.

The trial subjects were all recruited at the University of Leicester or University Hospitals of Leicester.

Source: University of Leicester (news : web)

Explore further: Missing protein restored in patients with muscular dystrophy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Unusual flu vaccine is developed

Jun 14, 2006

U.S. scientists have used reverse genetics to develop an influenza virus with two key proteins on its surface derived from the H5N1 avian virus strain.

Bird flu vaccine protects people and pets

Oct 20, 2008

A single vaccine could be used to protect chickens, cats and humans against deadly flu pandemics, according to an article published in the November issue of the Journal of General Virology. The vaccine protects birds and ma ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

10 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

12 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments : 0