Flu vaccines and government regulations

December 13, 2003 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Rants | Leave a comment

A CNN article describes the process used last March to decide on the flu vaccine to be used this year. As most of us know, they picked the wrong strain this year, causing an increase in the number of flu cases and deaths, especially those of children. The interesting quote in the article is this:

Nancy Cox, chief of the influenza branch at the CDC, told the group that manufacturers had been unable to grow the Fujian strain in chicken eggs — the only FDA-approved method of reproducing the virus for use in vaccines. “It’s just not working this time,” she said. “We don’t know why.”

I’m no biologist, but it does seem to me that as a result of evolution and adaptation, flu strains that survive are the ones that cannot be easily grown in chicken eggs, since over the past 30 years, we have been effective at making ourselves immune to such viruses.

At the very least, we should use the lessons learned from this years’ flu season to aggresively figure out how to deal with such threats in the future. I would consider this threat to be as important as the war on terror, as far as lives are concerned.

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