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Pitt researchers propose new model to design better flu shots
Date:12/22/2011

aracteristics of the flu selection decision and integrates the composition and timing decisions of the flu shot design.

The model allows examination of the effect of many changes to the design and production of the vaccine, such as how many strains to include in the shot, when to make the final decision, how many times the FDA should meet to re-examine the current information concerning strains in other parts of the world, and the potential benefits from improved production methods.

"With this model, several policy questions can be addressed," said Schaefer. "For example, incorporating more than three strains might increase the societal benefit substantially, particularly under more severe flu seasons."

"The strains in the flu shot are now chosen at least six months before the actual flu season," added Schaefer. "This leaves a lot of uncertainty because we're really not sure which strain will emerge. Our models provide insights into a better flu shot."

The Pitt study focused solely on the United States, where the FDA makes the final decision about the flu shot composition soon after recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. The current flu shot contains inactivated strains of two influenza A subtypes and one influenza B lineage. The flu shot production is also limited by the scarcest strain, as the three strains are combined together to compose the shot.

"The three strains in the current flu shot are grown separately in chicken eggs and combined together to produce a single dose," said Ozaltin. "Our model considers all three strains simultaneously, because unanticipated difficulties in growing a strain might result in reductions in the overall flu shot supply."

The Pitt researchers note that currently only six manufacturers provide the flu shot for the U.S. market. Once the strains are selected by an FDA advisory committee, manufacturers move forward in making t
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Contact: B. Rose Huber
rhuber@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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