Europe taps CSL Seqirus to produce bird flu vaccines for pandemic preparedness efforts

Right after signing on to help with bird flu pandemic preparedness efforts in the U.S., CSL Seqirus has agreed to do the same in Europe through a vaccine supply pact.

The European Commission’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) tapped CSL Seqirus to deliver 665,000 doses of its pre-pandemic bird flu vaccine for 15 European countries. Under a four-year contract, authorities can purchase up to 40 million more doses.

The vaccine is “well-matched” to the currently circulating avian influenza strain, CSL Seqirus said in a release.

“While the [European CDC] assesses the risk of infection from avian influenza to be low for the general population, it considers people with activities that expose them to infected animals or a contaminated environment at low-medium risk,” CSL Seqirus’ head of global medicine strategy, Raja Rajaram, explained in the release.

“This agreement will help in Europe’s resolve to maintain robust preparedness and rapid response capabilities for this potential threat," Rajaram added.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), along with government agencies across the world, has been closely monitoring the spread of avian flu. Three people in the U.S. have contracted the virus after being exposed to infected cattle, but no cases of human-to-human transmission have been reported.

As of last month, Europe has had no confirmed cases of avian flu in human or cattle, the ECDC noted in a May disease threat weekly report.

CSL Seqirus is producing the vaccines at its European manufacturing sites. The vaccine maker’s Amsterdam facility will handle testing and release, while the company will utilize a “scalable method of production” at its Liverpool site.

Late last month, the company pledged to deliver 4.8 million vaccine doses through an award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Those doses will be manufactured at CSL Seqirus’ massive Holly Springs, North Carolina, plant that was built through a public-private partnership with BARDA 15 years ago.