Racing to produce a huge quantity of vaccine to fight an expected tsunami of swine flu cases this fall, Novartis says that a single low dose of its Celtura jab produced an immune response sufficient to protect the volunteers enrolled in a small trial.
The cell culture-based vaccine--which includes an adjuvant to boost its efficacy--was tested in a trial involving 100 people, says the giant pharma manufacturer. Health officials in the U.S. are likely to recommend a traditional two-shot approach to swine flu. With no built-in immunity to the new flu, it typically takes a booster shot to fully protect people from a virus like this. But with plans to inoculate hundreds of millions of people around the globe in a short period, a single-shot approach could provide wider protection that would blunt the size and speed of the second wave.
"The pilot trial results are encouraging,'' said Andrin Oswald, chief executive officer of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. "While two doses seem to provide better protection, one dose of our adjuvanted Celtura vaccine may be sufficient to protect adults against the swine flu. This is important information for public health authorities who prepare for vaccination in the coming months with limited vaccine supply.'' Novartis is now testing Celtura in trials involving 6,000 subjects.