The National Institute of Health has announced that it will soon begin trials of vaccines for the H1N1 flu. Of the eight cities across the nation set to participate in the trials, Nashville is on the list.
Nashville’s Vanderbilt University, an internationally known institution in vaccine and other health-related research, is slated to join in the vaccine tests, led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“With the emergence of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, we have undertaken a collaborative and efficient process of vaccine development that is proceeding in stepwise fashion”, Fauci said in a press released issued today. According to Fauci, the tests are designed to “determine whether the vaccines are safe and to asses their ability to induce protective immune responses”.
The tests will begin by giving the trial vaccines to healthy adult and elderly volunteers 21 days apart. If testing reveals that the vaccines are safe and strengthen the immune systems of the test volunteers against the virus, trials will begin in healthy children from 6 months to 17 years of age.
Two companies have produced vaccines set to be tested in the volunteer trials. Sanofi Pastuer and CSL Biotherapies, both with U.S. headquarters in Pennsylvania, are scheduled to deliver the trial vaccines to be used in the tests, according to company press releases.
Sanofi Pastuer has already contracted with the French government to provide 28 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine, with an option for 28 million additional doses in the future. CSL currently provides vaccines to more than 16 countries across Europe, South America and Asia.
According to government reports, Vanderbilt received nearly $300 million in federal research funds from the National Institutes of Health in 2008. It is unknown if the H1N1 vaccine tests will be paid for with part of these funds. When contacted this morning, Vanderbilt’s Division of Infectious Diseases refused to comment on the tests or the government’s press release.
The H1N1 virus, also known as the Swine Flu, has been declared to have reached epidemic proportions by the World Health Organization, citing 70 countries that have reported cases of infection and on-going community level outbreaks. As of July 17, the Centers for Disease Control reports 247 confirmed and probable cases of the H1N1 virus in Tennessee. Of the 263 fatal cases reported across the nations, only one was in Tennessee.
Nashville’s participation in the study is another example of Tennessee being the volunteer state.