A recent study claims that cell-based flu vaccines are more effective than the more common variety manufactured using chicken eggs
The study — commissioned by CSL Behring-subsidiary Seqirus, a major supplier of the flu vaccine in the United States — found by reviewing electronic medical records that the cell-based vaccine Flucelvax was 36.2 percent more effective in preventing flu-like illness than standard egg-based shots.
“This is a real advance,” said Paul Perreault, CSL’s chief executive officer, in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “Cell-based technologies are showing effectiveness. It tends to give a better match and will help tremendously in the confidence for consumers to go out and get vaccinated.”
Seqirus manufactures Flucelvax, which is not the only cell-based vaccine but is the only one approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Most vaccines are produced through an egg-based manufacturing process, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In their production, the flu virus is inserted into a fertilized hen egg and incubated so that the virus replicates. A potential problem of this method, according to Bloomberg, is that the virus undergoes changes within this process that may make the vaccine more effective for treating chickens than it is for treating people.
The cell-based approach attempts to avoid the chicken problem by growing the vaccine in cultured mammalian cells.
The Seqirus-commissioned study was conducted by comparing the medical records of more than 90,000 people who received cell-based vaccines and the records of more than 1.2 million people who received egg-based vaccines.
The cell-based vaccine is more expensive than its egg-based counterparts. Flucelvax costs $20.47 for a standard dose, while egg-based options range from $15 to $17 per dose.
The cell vs. egg study has its critics. Health News Review rated it 3 out of 5 stars, critiquing its lack of independent sources while also noting that the study is both unpublished and has not been peer-reviewed.
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