Vaccination against Influenza virus remains the most effective method to prevent serious respiratory disease caused by annual seasonal epidemics. The effectiveness of this approach is dependent on close collaborative efforts between International Health organisations, national regulatory laboratories and pharmaceutical companies. On the 27th and 28th of January, NIBSC held a meeting in London with influenza vaccine manufacturers, World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centres for Influenza and WHO Essential Regulatory Laboratories (ERLs) from around the world to discuss issues regarding influenza vaccine production.
These meetings are held twice a year and provide a forum for the review and discussion of any potential issues related to the annual influenza vaccine production. The most recent meeting was attended by more than 70 attendees and was used to review surveillance, manufacture, strain selection, preparation of reagents and potency testing for the on-going and the upcoming influenza vaccine production campaigns.
One of the important outcomes of this meeting was the plan to set up a working group to review the entire process from influenza vaccine strain selection to the release of vaccines, including stakeholders from industry, public health and regulatory laboratories. The aim is to find ways to make the process more resilient.
A half day of the meeting was dedicated to the topic of potency testing of influenza vaccines. Vaccine potency, or its strength, is determined by the measurement of the concentration of the active ingredient - the antigen - in influenza vaccines using a biological assay. Potency testing has been discussed at these meetings for a number of years, and this time, progress on the evaluation of new assays was reported.
NIBSC and its influenza laboratory play a crucial role in preparing and distributing so-called candidate vaccine viruses and reference reagents for the potency testing of vaccines. For more information on NIBSC’s influenza work, visit the influenza pages.