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Ready-to-use flu vaccine in sight

Swine flu outbreak in IndiaSerum Institute of India (SII) has developed a ready-to-use influenza vaccine that promises to offer protection against three influenza viruses, including swine flu.

The ready-to-use liquid vaccine will be easier to administer than the present reconstituent vaccine, Nasovac-S, which requires one to mix the vaccine powder with a diluent before vaccination.

SII will apply to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) shortly to introduce the new intra-nasal vaccine in the market. “We will apply to the DCGI in the coming days for authorisation for this product. If all goes as planned, the liquid trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine should be available any time this year,” Adar Poonawalla, executive director and SII chief executive officer, told TOI on Tuesday.

Poonawalla said the internationally available vaccine in the US was also in the liquid form. “Our ready-to-use influenza vaccine also falls in the same category. This will offer the vaccine more acceptability among the medical fraternity,” he said.

SII executive director Rajeev Dhere said that since the new liquid vaccine would be easier to administer, it would simplify mass immunization. “The vaccine has been found to be as stable, safe and effective as the current vaccine,” he said.

The influenza virus is transmitted primarily by droplets or respiratory secretions of infected persons. Influenza occurs all over the world, with an annual global attack rate estimated at 5-10% in adults and 20-30% in children.

Influenza is associated with considerable economic burden arising from healthcare costs, lost days of work or education, and general social disruption across all age groups.

Secondary bacterial pneumonia is a frequent complication of influenza infection, particularly among the elderly and individuals with certain chronic diseases, resulting in a significant level of morbidity and mortality.

Next-gen quadrivalent influenza vaccine may be out next year

Serum Institute of India has also developed a next-generation quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine which will offer protection against four strains of influenza viruses, including swine flu. “The development part of this vaccine has nearly been completed. If all goes well, it will be available next year. The vaccine will be the first of its kind developed in Asia,” said Adar Poonawalla said.