So You Think Viruses Are Natural & Vaccines Are The Cure?

Well, according to the World Health Organisation, viruses and vaccines are manufactured in the laboratories of the pharmaceutical companies who produce them.

The following extract is taken from the 2009 WHO discussion paper below – Observations on Vaccine Production Technologies and Factors Potentially Influencing Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Choices in Developing Countries.

Summary of the basic technological approaches to influenza vaccine production.

1. Egg-based Hdassic” influenza vaccine: Vaccine virus is injected into fertilized eggs. The eggs are placed in incubators and the virus reproduces in the eggs. Fluid is then harvested from the eggs and washed with detergent The resulting killed virus material is separated and used for vaccine formulation. This type of vaccine is one kind of inactivated (i.e. killed) influenza vaccine, or “IIV”.

2. Live attenuated influenza vaccine (HLAIV”): Vaccine virus is grown in eggs (or in the future, potentially in cell culture) in a process similar to classic flu vaccine. The live virus uses a special type of genetic backbone (currently of limited availability since they are proprietary). Harvesting and formulation is simpler than with killed vaccines. The final product is more delicate and requires a cold chain, but the process potentially is considerably more efficient, producing more flu shots with the same number of eggs.

3. Cell culture influenza vaccines: Mammalian, avian, or other cells are cultured in growth media. This culture is scaled up to the desired density of cells in large bioreactors (fermenters) up to thousands of litres in capacity. The culture is infected with vaccine strain, which multiplies in the cells, producing large quantities of vaccine virus. Harvesting, purification and packaging are essentially the same as with egg­base vaccines. This ls another type of IIV, produced by a different method.

4. “Second generation” biotechnological vaccines: Many techniques are under study, including: producing recombinant HA protein in other, easily grown, organisms (e.g. transgenic bacteria); “naked” and plasmid DNA vaccines in which “codon optimized” genes are used as vaccine; and genetically engineered systems to co-express flu genes, making a virus-like particle (VLP) that is used as vaccine.