CDC Sticking with 'Tried and True' Methods for Flu Vaccines

Includes: INO, NVAX, SVA, VICL
by: M. E. Garza

Speaking at the CDC briefing on H1N1 flu and vaccine distribution on Tuesday afternoon, CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said his group is looking to stick with proven methods for vaccine production.

While the director admitted that there are new technologies available to speed up the process for flu vaccine production, changes in the way the U.S. Government handles that time intensive process may not see a change for "at least a couple of years."

Still, the director insisted that his group is looking closely at some of these new technologies and that his group needs to encourage more development and testing. Some companies are also doing and developing business with their technologies outside the U.S.

Currently, the flu virus has to be grown out in chicken eggs, a 50-year-old technology that is "tried and true" but difficult to speed up, says the CDC's director. Delays in growing the virus are the biggest factor contributing to the problem, but some delays have also occurred because countries where the vaccines are manufactured have insisted that their own needs be met before doses are shipped out of the country. With the exception of intranasal vaccine FluMist, all of the influenza vaccines are manufactured in other countries, "leaving this country at the mercy of other governments," according to the Los Angeles Times.

This news may affect the shares of some of the publicly traded companies who are developing some of these new vaccination technologies.

Our list includes:

Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX)
Product: Vaccines using Virus-like particle technology

Inovio Biomedical Corporation (Amex:INO)
Product: SynCon™ H1N1 influenza DNA vaccines

Vical Incorporated (NASDAQ:VICL)
Product: Patented DNA delivery technology

Sinovac Biotech Ltd. (Amex: SVA)
Product: Panflu