Intranasal flu vaccine under scrutiny

flu virus in pink

An influenza vaccine delivered intranasally should not be given in any setting during the 2016-17 flu season in the US, its manufacturer has said.

AstraZeneca confirmed that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided its interim recommendation on the use of FluMist Quadrivalent Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine in the US for the season: it should not be used in any setting.

This recommendation was based on CDC vaccine effectiveness data from the last three US flu seasons, which indicated FluMist Quadrivalent did not demonstrate statistically significant effectiveness in children two to 17 years of age.

AstraZeneca says that this CDC data contrasts with its own studies, as well as preliminary independent findings by public health authorities internationally.

It says that these findings demonstrate FluMist Quadrivalent was 46-58% effective overall against the circulating influenza strains during the 2015-2016 season.

As flu vaccine effectiveness varies from season to season, it is evaluated in annual observational studies.

The CDC states that when there is a good match between the strains in the vaccine and those that circulate during the influenza season, vaccines are typically 50-60% effective. AstraZeneca says it is working with the CDC to better understand its data to help ensure eligible patients continue to receive the vaccine in future seasons in the US.

Recently QUT’s Professor Lisa Nissen, who led the QPIP trials, told the AJP that she did not think that the intranasal vaccine would ever be approved in Australia.

“I don’t think it’ll get a Guernsey,” she said. “I don’t think there’ll be much interest in it and there are some questions about whether it’s as efficacious as the injection.

“It’s got a bit of airtime in North America, and the authorities here were sniffing around it but I don’t think it’ll ever get up here.”

The Influenza Specialist Group said in mid-June that it expected the Australian season would be likely to commence in the next few weeks.

As at 26 June, there had been a total of 11,899 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza in Australia, with the largest number in Queensland, at 4223.

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