Updated on 14 May 2013
"Before the release of the right seed strain, we are doing all we can in the preparation stage, such as storing enough chicken-embryos, preparing staff, and putting the right equipment in place," stated Zou Yong, director, H7N9 vaccine project, Sinovac Biotech, at a recent press briefing. The vaccine prepared will cost the Chinese government $3.23 (20 Yuan) a vial. The company is under an agreement with China's Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), according to which the vaccine prepared by Sinovac for pandemic flu doesn't need to undergo clinical trial as the production method is pre-tested and approved.
Speed meets flexibility
Vaccine major from the US, Greffex announced in May 2013 that they have prepared the first comprehensive vaccine for H7N9 Avian Influenza using their proprietary Grevax technology. Known as pioneer in short development periods for a vaccine, Greffex's vaccine platform can now take large payloads too.
"Our vaccine platform was built with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST). The platform focuses on the potent immunogenicity of adenovirus-based engineered vaccines to vaccine antigens resulting in a 'plug-and-play' design of vaccines for emerging diseases. Speed as well as flexibility is needed for vaccine design in order to combat emerging infectious threats," explained Mr John R Price, president and CEO, Greffex, at a global press briefing held at their headquarters earlier in May.
With the virus spreading to Taiwan, companies there too have begun earnest preparations for developing a vaccine. Claiming to be the only human-vaccine manufacturer in Taiwan, Adimmune Corporation requested the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO for the H7N9 virus strands needed to prepare a vaccine. These groups have agreed to provide the same to the Taiwan National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) by the end of May. "We will need only six-to-eight week's time to prepare a vaccine. We're using the H1N1 vaccine for which we already have license to make a mockup vaccine, to get quick approval from the government," Adimmune vice president Mr Simon Kao stated in the company's official statement.
The company that had in 2009 produced and distributed over 7 million doses, now aims to produce between 5 million and 10 million doses. With an ability to produce two million doses of the vaccine, Taiwan's National Health Research Institute (NHRI) said that it is prepared for any kind of emergency too. "The NHRI supports the Department of Health policies to fight disease by producing vaccines in case of an emergency. We would take approximately two months to prepare a vaccine from the H7N9 virus strain, another six months for mass production of the vaccine by domestic vaccine manufacturers, and then it will go through the final market authorization by the health authorities," said Su Ih-jen, director, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, NHRI, talking about Taiwan's preparedness to combat H7N9. Further the first batch of three-to-five million doses of the vaccine produced would be provided to the disease control workers, healthcare officials and poultry farmers.