CSL begins this year’s Alfuria shipments

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Influenza

CSL Biotherapies, part of Australia’s CSL group, has begun shipping the first of six million doses of its thimerosal-free vaccine Afluria to the US CDC ahead of this year’s flu season.

The product, which protects against both A and B strains of the virus, is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) seasonal influenza vaccine stock pile that, this year, is expected to be around 143m doses.

All of the other seasonal vaccine suppliers (GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Sanofi Pasteur, ID Biomedical and Novartis) have already started shipping their respective products. The CDC expects that the bulk of this process will be completed by the end of October.

Paul Perreault, executive vice president of worldwide commercial operations at CSL Biotherapies, said that the order “marks a three-fold increase of Afluria vaccine supply to the US over last year​.”

Hemispheric shift in circulating strains

In August, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this year’s range of vaccines which, for the first time contain three completely new viral strains.

Two of the viruses, Brisbane 10 and 59 were isolated in Australia during the southern hemisphere’s flu season, while the type B virus was first detected in the US in 2006.

Each year seasonal vaccines are modified to reflect the virus strains most likely to be circulating. The more exact the match between circulating strains and the vaccines, the better the protection that they provide.

There is always a possibility of a less than optimal match between the virus strains predicted to circulate and what virus strains end up causing the most illness. Even if the vaccines and the circulating strains are not an exact match, they will provide some protection and may reduce the severity of the illness or prevent flu-related complications.

Jesse Goodman, director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said that "one of the biggest challenges in the fight against influenza is producing new vaccines every year​."

Goodman added that: "There is no other instance where new vaccines must be made every year. The approval of flu vaccines is a part of FDA's mission to promote the health of Americans throughout the year."

Vaccination is the cornerstone of the US influenza prevention programme. According to CDC data, every year an average of 5 to 20 per cent of the population gets the flu, more than 200,000 of whom are hospitalised and there are about 36,000 flu-related deaths.

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