The FDA has approved a new type of flu vaccine that is grown in cultured animal cells instead of eggs. The new vaccine, called Flucelvax, is manufactured by Novartis. It has been available in Europe for several years but this is the first time it has been approved for use in the United States.
The approval of this new type of flu vaccine has several important implications. Although it has not yet been recommended for use in people who are allergic to eggs, it has the potential to be since it is not grown in eggs like other flu vaccines.
It is also able to be manufactured much more quickly than traditional flu vaccines. The flu vaccines that are grown in eggs take months to produce, while the new cell based vaccine can be manufactured in just weeks. The significantly shorter production time is important because it means a vaccine can be made much more quickly to combat the next pandemic flu outbreak.
This is not the first vaccine to use cell based production technology. Several other vaccines are already produced this way (and have been for decades), it is just the first time it has been approved for use with flu vaccines.
The Flucelvax will be produced at a facility in North Carolina and representatives say a limited amount of the vaccine will be available this flu season. In clinical trials, the vaccine was 83.8% effective at preventing the flu when compared with placebo.