Pundits push for changes in creation of vaccines

As the swine flu epidemic continues to steam ahead, leading pundits have begun to apply lessons learned from its spread to potential bioattacks.

Bioterrorism, which former Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent have called the nation's leading terrorist threat, can be prepared for. The former senators, whoever contend that the swine flu has shown that the United States needs to end its reliance on making vaccines from eggs if it intends to confront the problem head on.

"To date, the U.S. government has invested the largest portion of its nonproliferation efforts and diplomatic capital in preventing nuclear terrorism. Only by elevating the priority of preventing bioterrorism will it be possible to substantially improve U.S. and global biosecurity," the former senators wrote in a December 2008 report.

The problems with the United States' vaccine-manufacturing, the duo says, have been highlighted by swine flu and the ensuing rush to manufacture millions of doses of the H1N1 influenza vaccine.

The current vaccine-manufacturing plan was developed prior to the Cold War, they say, and has never been updated.

Currently, the United States grows its vaccines in eggs over the course of six to eight months.  As there has been no real financial incentive to upgrade the vaccine making process, pharmaceutical manufacturers have instead focused on more profitable medications rather than vaccines.

The government, however, needs to focus its support on an effort to update its vaccine technology to current standards and utilize molecular biological techniques, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said.

By creating a system through updated processing where countermeasures to bioweapons are stockpiled, former Senator Talent has said, their effectiveness as terrorist tools will effectively be blunted.