A Review of Production Technologies for Influenza Virus Vaccines

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A review of production technologies for influenza virus vaccines, and their suitability for deployment in developing countries for influenza pandemic preparedness

World Health Organization Initiative for Vaccine Research Geneva Switzerland

Date:

20 December 2006

Contributed by: Julian Hickling MBA, PhD and Erik D'Hondt PhD Independent Consultants commissioned by WHO

Page 1 of 34

Influenza vaccine production technologies

20 December 2006

Preamble
Immunization against influenza is considered an essential public health intervention to control both seasonal epidemic and pandemic influenza. Thus, influenza vaccine development and deployment is a critical part of pandemic influenza preparedness. Most resource-constrained countries do not have the means for accessing seasonal influenza vaccines and may face the same challenge during an influenza pandemic. There is therefore a need for these countries to consider establishing influenza vaccine production capacity. Several methods of production and also types of influenza vaccine exist, each with pros and cons for use, but also vastly different requirements in terms of capital investment, technology transfer, and production response time. Manufacturers in developing countries who are interested in establishing influenza vaccine production capacity need to consider which type of vaccine, and which type of production technology is appropriate for them, and can be sustained. This document outlines the technologies currently available for the production of vaccines against influenza virus, and considers their suitability for influenza vaccine production in developing countries. The key advantages and disadvantages associated with each approach are identified, as well as the main hurdles that need to be overcome in the adoption of each of the technologies. Investment and time required for implementing production capacity are also discussed. The production technologies considered in the document are egg- and tissueculture-based propagation of influenza virus, for the preparation of live attenuated or inactivated vaccines. The analysis shows that egg-based production of live attenuated vaccine requires the least capital investment to establish and maintain, and therefore appears attractive to manufacturers in resource-poor settings. Nevertheless, parameters such as the regulatory pathway to licensure and Intellectual Property Right (IPR) issues also need to be considered. Egg-based production of inactivated virus is currently the most widely used technology., However large scale production of inactivated vaccine requires significant capital investment which may be difficult to justify in areas where there is only limited market for seasonal vaccine. Tissue-culture based production of live attenuated or inactivated vaccines requires greater financial investment, and access to proprietary technologies, but these technologies may have advantages in terms of logistics of vaccine production in event of a pandemic, and may also have long-term advantages for the manufacturer. These pros and cons of each option are discussed in detail in the document, and graphically presented to assist manufacturers in selecting which technology is the most appropriate for them and for their country's pandemic preparedness plans.

Page 2 of 34

Influenza vaccine production technologies

20 December 2006

Contents
1 2 3 3.1 Acronyms and abbreviations .................................................................................... 5 Preamble...................................................................................................................... 6 Influenza vaccines: background ............................................................................... 7 Seasonal influenza vaccine .......................................................................................... 7 3.1.1 3.1.2 3.1.3 3.1.4 Annual cycle of influenza vaccine production...
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