The White House announced last week that it is the policy of the U.S. to "modernize the domestic influenza vaccine enterprise to be highly responsive, flexible, scalable, and more effective at preventing the spread of influenza viruses. This is a public health and national security priority, as influenza has the potential to significantly harm the United States and our interests, including through large-scale illness and death, disruption to military operations, and damage to the economy."
This order directs actions to reduce the nation's reliance on egg-based influenza vaccine production; to expand domestic capacity of alternative methods that allow more agile and rapid responses to emerging influenza viruses; to advance the development of new, broadly protective vaccine candidates that provide more effective and longer lasting immunities; and to support the promotion of increased influenza vaccine immunization across recommended populations.
The National Influenza Vaccine Task Force will identify actions to achieve the objectives of this executive order, as well as monitor and report on the implementation and results of those actions. The Task Force will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, or their designees. Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Task Force will submit a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The report will include:
-- a five-year national plan to promote the use of more agile and scalable vaccine manufacturing technologies and to accelerate development of vaccines that protect against many or all influenza viruses
-- recommendations for encouraging non-profit, academic, and private-sector influenza vaccine innovation
-- recommendations for increasing influenza vaccination among the populations recommended by the CDC and for improving public understanding of influenza risk and informed influenza vaccine decision-making.
Influenza vaccines are vitally important to disease prevention, yet current production methods need to be improved.
Influenza vaccines are the best way to save lives, reduce the illness severity, and prevent influenza infections in the first place.
During the 2017–2018 flu season, influenza vaccinations prevented up to 7.1 million illnesses, 3.7 million medical visits, and 109,000 hospitalizations.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that vaccines prevented more than 40,000 flu-associated deaths over a nine-year period.
It is especially important to be able to rapidly produce well-matched influenza vaccines using scalable technologies in the event of a future influenza pandemic.
Despite their important role in safeguarding the health of the American people, influenza vaccines are currently produced using more time-consuming, egg-based technology. More rapid non-egg-based production methods would give experts more time to select the most relevant strains.
Source: White House