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Seqirus Meets New Milestone in Pandemic Preparedness

By Mindy Hamlin, NCBiotech Writer

Seqirus marked the 10th anniversary of its pandemic partnership with the US Government by hosting Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., at the Holly Springs cell culture flu vaccine production site. Celebrating the milestone are (from left) BARDA Director Rick Bright, M.D.; Seqirus VP of Operations John Anderson, M.D.; Price; and Seqirus President Gordon Naylor.

Seqirus, the Holly Springs vaccine manufacturer, recently achieved another major milestone in its efforts to support the U.S. government’s pandemic preparedness efforts.

Over the past two years, the company has quadrupled its seasonal influenza vaccine output. The achievement coincides with the 10th anniversary of a pandemic partnership with the U.S. Government following the outbreak of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in 2007. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price marked the anniversary with a visit to the facility.

The company’s cell-based technology replaces traditional egg-based manufacturing. Influenza viruses isolated and grown exclusively in cells better replicate influenza viruses in circulation. The technology also greatly increases the company’s ability to develop the vaccine quickly.

By accelerating the development of the technology, Seqirus has increased its seasonal influenza vaccine output from 5 million trivalent (three-strain) doses to around 20 million quadrivalent (four-strain) doses. What does this mean for pandemic preparation? The company can now produce 150 million doses of
a vaccine in the first six months of pandemic declaration.

This achievement comes on the heels of Seqirus’ announcement
in June that it that it had successfully produced a cell-based influenza vaccine at commercial scale using a candidate vaccine virus prepared by the World Health Organization. The WHO’s
Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and associated laboratories are used by manufacturers to develop and produce influenza vaccines.

The manufacturing plant, which Seqirus acquired from Novartis in 2015, was made possible by a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help protect the public from pandemic influenza threats. Upon its completion in 2012, the plant become one of three federally designated Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing and is part of the federal government’s rapid response plan to produce vaccines in the event of pandemic flu.

NCBiotech and state leaders partner to bring flu vaccine manufacturing to NC

In 2006, NCBiotech, along with leaders from state and local government, economic development and education, partnered with organizations from around the globe to bring Novartis and the related biotech jobs and scientific advancements to North Carolina.

With the opening of the Seqirus plant, North Carolina became a leading manufacturer of the next generation of the flu vaccine. The biomanufacturing facility represents a $1 billion capital investment that continues to underscore the strength of North Carolina’s workforce and its global leadership in life science.

Today, Seqirus is the world’s second-largest vaccine company with 550 full-time and 150 contract employees in Holly Springs and 2,000 worldwide. Its plant in Holly Springs is the first and only full-scale cell culture influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in the U.S. 

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