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Quickie Quiz: How Do We Get To Vaccine Central?

While you’re enjoying a holiday get-together during the next few weeks, listen to the chatter and see how many ways we identify ourselves.

Each person wears many labels: “I work at… I live in… I like to… I drive a… I graduated from…”

I’d like to promote another label, based on a growing phenomenon that already links thousands of people working in labs and factories across North Carolina: “Vaccine Central.”

It struck me after reading a nice piece this week in the online newsletter FiercePharmaManufacturing about the landmark Novartis flu vaccine approval by the FDA.

I gave a shout-out to the writer, Eric Palmer, and asked him if he or someone at the Fierce publications might consider a look at North Carolina’s emergence as “Vaccine Central,” where they’ll find not only Novartis’ fabulous $1 billion cell-culture facility in Holly Springs, but a bustling bundle of other factories and labs where a whole new world of preventive health is taking shape.

Just a few miles from the Novartis plant, we have the $42 million (so far) Medicago facility in Research Triangle Park that just completed a “rapid fire test” producing 10 million doses of H1N1 vaccine from viral-like particles grown in tobacco leaves. That, by itself, is also a really interesting story.

And a few miles from the Medicago campus, in Durham, we have Merck’s new, 650,000-square-foot egg-based multi-vaccine facility, also now approaching the $1 billion investment mark.

Then, of course, we’re also North American headquarters for GlaxoSmithKline, and also have major vaccine manufacturing facilities owned by Pfizer,  Greer Laboratories and Grifols.

Add to these the fascinating development-stage vaccine companies such as Arbovax in Raleigh, initially targeting dengue but if funding becomes available, also ready to test its platform technology on West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases.

You don’t have to look far to encounter numerous other exciting vaccine shops here including:

It’s amazing. But for some reason it’s hard to get traction in the media, and even with general public, to recognize this emerging reality of North Carolina as Vaccine Central.

Please let me know if you have any ideas on how we might make North Carolina’s vaccine magnetism more visible.

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