Earlier this week, Novavax, Inc. (NVAX) disclosed that its vaccine, which has been developed using its recombinant virus-like particles technology, protected ferrets against the 2009 novel H1N1 virus in pre-clinical studies. (Ferrets are the closest animal to humans when it comes to getting infected with influenza.)
Results showed that ferrets injected with a high dose of the vaccine did not develop flu symptoms and had no detectable virus in respiratory secretions three days after being exposed to H1N1. Subjects injected with a low dose displayed no detectable virus after five days, but those who did not receive the vaccine became ill.

The vaccine was produced in less than four weeks using the company’s proprietory virus-like-particle vaccine technology. Traditional influenza vaccines take several months to produce. The company intends to start human testing later this year.

However, the candidate will not be of much use in controlling the current pandemic as it will not be approved and ready for commercial use in the U.S. for at least a couple years. Novavax would have to undergo a lengthy process to get its product and manufacturing facilities approved before it could sell the vaccine in the U.S.

The World Health Organization declared H1N1 a pandemic in June 2009, and the virus has spread to about 180 countries. In July, U.S. advisers said that about half the U.S. population, especially pregnant women and healthcare workers, should get vaccinated against the new pandemic influenza strain.
Currently, five companies, AstraZeneca (AZN), CSL, GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK), Novartis (NVS) and Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), supply seasonal flu vaccine in the U.S. market. Three companies have started testing their swine flu vaccines in humans recently.
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