Latest Flu Vaccine Again Guards Against Pandemic Virus

Disclosures

August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012 — The influenza vaccine for the 2012-2013 season will once again guard against the pandemic A(H1N1) virus from 2009, the US Food and Drug     Administration (FDA) announced today.

Except for that repeat, the new formulation of the trivalent seasonal flu vaccine, just approved by the FDA, differs slightly from last season's formulation. The agency     selected 2 new virus strains that replace cousins of theirs in the previous mix.

The 3 viral strains that comprise the vaccine for the upcoming influenza season are:

  • A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus (the pandemic virus that surfaced in 2009)

  • A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus

  • B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus

The formulation follows last season's pattern of 1 "B" strain and 2 "A" strains, with one in the A(H1N1) camp and the other in the A(H3N2) camp. However,     the formulation for the 2011-2012 vaccine called for an A/Perth/16/2009(H3N2)-like virus and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus in addition to the pandemic     A(H1N1) strain.

The pandemic virus also was a component of the trivalent vaccine for the 2010-2011 season. In the 2009-2010 season, there was a separate, monovalent     vaccine against the pandemic virus alongside the trivalent seasonal vaccine. The monovalent vaccine contained the same pandemic strain found in subsequent     trivalent vaccines.

Novel Version of Swine Flu Virus Not in the Mix

The FDA selected the 3 viral strains for the 2012-2013 seasonal influenza vaccine based on the recommendation of its Vaccines and Related Biological     Products Advisory Committee as well as advice from other experts at the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),     and other institutions. Every year, these experts identify influenza strains most likely to circulate in the upcoming influenza season by scrutinizing     current virus samples and global disease patterns.

Not making it into the 2012-2013 formulation is a novel version of a swine     influenza virus called A(H3N2)v that has sickened more than 150 individuals across the country since July 2011. Most of them caught it directly or     indirectly from pigs at county fairs and farms. In a few cases, however, the virus has been transmitted from person to person. The CDC is closely     monitoring the novel swine influenza virus, which contains a gene from the pandemic A(H1N1) virus, to see if it begins to spread easily among humans. Just     in case, the agency plans to test a special vaccine against the virus before year's end.

Six manufacturers have been licensed to produce and distribute the 2012-2013 seasonal influenza vaccine, including an intranasal version. They are:

  • CSL Limited (Afluria)

  • GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (Fluarix)

  • ID Biomedical Corporation (FluLaval)

  • MedImmune Vaccine (FluMist)

  • Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited (Fluvirin)

  • Sanofi Pasteur (Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose, and Fluzone Intradermal)

All 6 companies previously produced vaccines for the 2011-2012 influenza season.

More information about today's announcement is available on the FDA Web site.

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