FDA committee backs Sanofi vaccine for bird flu

An FDA expert committee has voted in favor of a new bird flu vaccine from Sanofi Aventis, noting that it is only a stop-gap measure as researchers hunt for better protections against a possible pandemic. The vaccine isn't expected to be effective for most people exposed to a pandemic version of bird flu. In trials, the vaccine produced an immune response in about 45 percent of volunteers. But, as one adviser put it, "this is the vaccine we have now." That's good enough for many governments, which have already begun to stockpile the Sanofi vaccine as other developers advance their own therapies. Researchers have also been studying ways to switch from an egg-based production system for flu vaccines to a cell-based approach which would dramatically alter the time it takes to produce new stockpiles.

- read the San Jose Mercury News report