HHS, Novartis ink $486M vaccine deal

Novartis has nabbed $486 million from the U.S. government for its flu-vaccine plant for Holly Springs, North Carolina, where it will churn out vaccine for seasonal flu and gear up for production of a pandemic vaccine. The company had already won a $220 million HHS grant for the project in 2006 and broke ground on it last May.

The $486 million, eight-year contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services covers construction and operation of the plant, the Associated Press reports. By 2012, more than 300 people will work there, trying to devise a new flu shot using cell cultures. The aim is to make it possible to quickly turn out vaccines against new strains of flu virus.

And therein lies the pandemic portion of this deal: This plant will be working toward methods that could produce 150 million doses of a new vaccine within six months. As you know, scientists have been worrying that the H5N1 avian flu might mutate into a form easily transmissible among humans.

- check out the release from Novartis
- read the AP story