Developing Influenza Vaccines in Vietnam
With influenza vaccine development and production resources mostly concentrated in the industrialized world, low- and middle-income countries can face great challenges in protecting their populations against seasonal and pandemic influenza—a virus that causes mild to severe respiratory distress and even death. Vietnam has a population of approximately 90 million people and no domestic supply of influenza vaccines for use during seasonal spread or pandemic outbreaks of influenza. The country has also experienced isolated cases of avian A/H5N1 influenza in humans and more widespread outbreaks in poultry. The rapid development, production, and distribution of influenza vaccines could potentially save millions of lives.
In collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the US Department of Health and Human Services, PATH is implementing a project to support the enhancement of sustainable influenza vaccine production in Vietnam.
PATH is collaborating with several groups in Vietnam to assist in the production and clinical evaluation of high-quality, safe, and effective vaccines for a pandemic influenza. Building on previous efforts to help a state-owned vaccine developer, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), to ready its production facility for the manufacture of influenza vaccines using egg-based methods, PATH is now supporting IVAC to advance the clinical development of vaccines for a low-cost seasonal influenza vaccine and vaccines for pandemic influenza strains A/H5N1, A/H7N9 (both forms of avian influenza), and A/H1N1 (“swine flu”).
PATH is also supporting the production of cell-culture-based influenza vaccines at VABIOTECH, a state-owned vaccine and biological production company in Vietnam. Such vaccines could be promising options in a pandemic given their potential to be produced efficiently, at a large scale, and without reliance on egg supplies.
Over the course of the project, PATH has also worked with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health to support the country’s enabling environment for vaccine development. As a result, the Ministry of Health developed several guidelines for influenza vaccine clinical trials and licensure, as well as a long-term plan for influenza vaccine development and use in Vietnam.
By helping Vietnam strengthen its influenza vaccine production capacity, this project takes an important step toward increasing local and regional vaccine supplies and improving real-time response in an influenza pandemic. It will also serve as a model for other efforts to build local production of influenza vaccines in low- and middle-resource countries.
“From chicken to vial”: click here to find out more about how influenza vaccines are developed at the PATH-supported facility in Vietnam.
For more information about Influenza Vaccine Development, contact Dr. Nguyen Tuyet Nga, Vietnam Program Team Leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org.