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The sole influenza vaccine made in cell culture in the United States may have worked about 20 percent better this flu season than the standard vaccines made in eggs, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Thursday.

Gottlieb revealed that figure in a hearing of the congressional subcommittee on oversight and investigations, called to explore this year’s severe flu season and why flu vaccines did not appear to protect especially well.


Gottlieb has said for several weeks that the FDA had data that suggested the cell-culture vaccine performed somewhat better, but this was the first time he publicly quantified the scale of the benefit.

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  • Was Flucelvax used in the Medicare population noted in the above article the senior high dose or the regular dose? Your article does not state. I can’t find anyone who administers the senior dose in my area. Why with all the baby boomers aren’t doctors offering the senior dose also? Thanks.

  • The 20% is relative increase, not absolute increase in percentage points. So 17% vaccine efficacy for egg-based becomes about 20% vaccine efficacy for cell-based. Any increase is good, but this is a far cry from what you’re reporting.

  • I got the egg free version of the flu vaccine this season due to egg allergy. The difficulty was that I had to travel for miles to get it. A few years ago, Target made it available but when CVS bought Target pharmacies, this version was dropped. I wish this were more widely available.

  • Great article…. I think you will be quite interested in the upcoming (14th) conference call by Novavax, the innovator of NanoFlu vaccine using nanoparticle platform…
    Nanoflu was briefly mentioned in yesterdays congressional conference…

    NanoFlu had a phase 1/2 trial and moving on to phase 2 (total) and Phase 3…

    Novavax has a maternal RSV vaccine (recombinent) in phase III as well…

    Best regards… Dick Swift (photographer)
    La Crosse, WI

  • May I observe that I don’t agree with the math here? “But if the cell-culture vaccine were 20 percent better than the flu shots made in eggs, an additional 17 people — 20 percent of the 83 — would have been protected.”
    If the alternate were 20% better then an additional 4 people (20% of the 17) – so 21 – would have been protected. That is how I read it but you have the primary material.

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