Cell-Based Flu Vaccine More Effective Than Egg-Based Versions

November 16, 2018
Cecilia Pessoa Gingerich

EMR data from the 17-18 flu season shows that cell-based influenza vaccines were more effective at preventing influenza-like illness compared to standard egg-based vaccines.

Russell Basser, MD

Using electronic medical record (EMR) data from the 2017-2018 flu season, investigators found that a cell-based influenza vaccine was 36.2% more effective than the standard egg-based version in preventing influenza-like illness.

The study was commissioned by Sequirus, a company that licensed the cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine in 2016 and is a major supplier of flu vaccine in the US.

"Real-world evidence is critical in evaluating influenza vaccine effectiveness for continued advances in influenza prevention, and these new data are some of the most robust we have seen to date," said Russell Basser, MD, SVP of Research and Development at Seqirus. "This study, along with other burgeoning evidence, indicates that cell-based vaccines may result in better influenza-related outcomes compared to standard vaccine options in some seasons, particularly those characterized by egg-adapted changes."

The study used data from 1,353,862 patient records to determine the effectiveness of the cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine in preventing influenza-like illness compared to the egg-based version. Records from between August 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018 of patients 4 years of age and older were used. Investigators analyzed records from 92,192 subjects who received a cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine and 1,255,983 subjects who received an egg-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine.

The retrospective cohort study found that relative vaccine effectiveness of the cell-based versus egg-based quadrivalent vaccine was 36.2% (95% Confidence Interval, 26.1-44.9; P <.001)).

The cell-based influenza vaccine is produced at a facility built in partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to combat pandemic influenza threats. BARDA is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

"BARDA is committed to bringing forth innovation that can save lives. We know that the most effective approach to saving lives from pandemic influenza is to develop innovative technology that is used to combat seasonal influenza," said BARDA Director Rick Bright, PhD. "Today's announcement further underscores the positive impact public-private partnerships can have on the ability to protect people in our nation and around the world from the devastating impact of influenza."

Sequirus estimates that it will supply over 20 million doses of the cell-based influenza vaccine to the US market this flu season. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that manufacturers will provide as many as 163 to 168 million doses of injectable influenza vaccine for the 2018-2019 flu season. The CDC reports that approximately 156.5 million doses have been distributed, as of November 2.

"The burden and impact of influenza remains an important global healthcare concern and ensuring we have effective vaccines is a public health imperative," said Gordon Naylor, president of Seqirus. "As a company on the front line of influenza protection, we are committed to developing innovative solutions, like cell-based vaccines, to help reduce deaths and severe illness caused by influenza."