Mike the Mad Biologist

From the NY Times, the blame game begins:

At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security argued that they were right not to put immune-boosting adjuvants in the vaccine even though that could have quadrupled the number of doses available now, and that they were also right to leave decisions about allocating vaccine up to local health departments instead of trying to micromanage them from Atlanta or Washington.

The shortage, the representatives said, was proof that the country needs its own new vaccine plants instead of relying on factories, most of them overseas, using 50-year-old technology.

Even though the government has inspectors watching every batch of vaccine made, “things go wrong,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, chief of preparedness and response for the Health and Human Services Department. “We need a new way of making vaccines so we’re not dependent on the vagaries of growing virus in eggs.”


Of course, Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins are leading charge, because why do something meaningful about healthcare when you can beat up the CDC? As far as I’m concerned, the only thing wrong the CDC did was to not order around 300-400 million doses of vaccine (since vaccine manufacturers never hit their targets)–of course, had they done that, conservatives would have been wailing like the bane sidhe about wasting money on too much vaccine (of course, giving it away would have been a really good foreign policy initiative…)

And then there’s adjuvants, which are used to boost the vaccine, allowing more doses per amount of ‘raw’ vaccine:

Dr. Lurie said the adding of adjuvants had been discussed repeatedly but would have meant pulling doses off the production line. Also, she said, because anti-vaccine activists have expressed a fear of adjuvants, even though they are naturally occurring oils that have been used safely in Europe for a decade, public confidence in the vaccine was “not as robust as we’d like it to be” and officials feared some people would avoid shots.

TEH THIMEROSALS R MELTING TEH BRAINZ!!!

Thanks anti-vaxxers!

So, let’s see:

1) EPIC MANUFACTURER FAIL.

2) No funding to create a vaccine surplus.

3) Anti-vaccination lunacy.

This is obviously the CDC’s fault.

I told you this would happen.

Comments

  1. #1 Mary
    November 24, 2009

    Quite so. You were right :)

    But, ya know, if we had switched vax technology (and I support that, I know it’s coming) there would just have been other manufacturing hiccups and new goal-post-adjustments by the anti-vaxxers.

    One of my favorite new vax technologies is to make the proteins in plant cells. But that drives the anti-GMO crowd bonkers too.

  2. #2 Rob Jase
    November 24, 2009

    Of course its the CDC’s fault!

    What, you want to hold the vaccine manufacturers responsible for deliberately underproducing enough vaccine? What kind of capitalist are you?

    Especially as a similar shortage happened only a few years ago under Dubya & the industry assured the CDC it wouldn’t happen again.

    Of course in the end its all Obama’s fault even though the contracts were done while Dubya was in office.

  3. #3 Pierce R. Butler
    November 24, 2009

    Simply think if all of this had been done the American Way™, and handed over to the Free MarketⓇ without that Intolerable Government Interference© -

    We’d have a surplus of vaccines, a dozen different brands in multiple flavors, all approved by important-sounding organizations and endorsed by leading celebrities!

    And just imagine the infomercials [swoon]…

  4. #4 Tammy
    November 25, 2009

    I think it’s not about blame at ALL. It’s about a better way. I’m allergic to thimerosal, so I usually have to take the flu hit… and had children with asthma who were endangered by this. I am very interested in the biology of the new ways to grow vaccines (cell cultures are fascinating- but still difficult to maintain). I am not interested at ALL in the politics, except where I can stand up for what’s needed to keep us and especially our children safe.

  5. #5 Tom
    November 26, 2009

    Check out http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/brownlee-h1n1 . I’m a biophysicist (Ph.D 1978) and I can’t help conclude that flu shots are a great way to make money and little else. The CDC has not verified (by lab tests) any reports of H1N1 since late July — they just stopped doing it when only a small percentage of “flu” cases turned out to actually involve H1N1. I’ve never gotten a flu shot and never will. The flu shot seems to be a good way to get sick. My daughter works for a cardiologist who gave his whole family the shot (6 people) and guess what — they were all sick for days after. He was mad at my daughter for refusing the shot, but she had to take care of the kids when the mom couldn’t even get out of bed. Her comment to me was “Dad, thanks for letting us play in the dirt when we were little.” Building a healthy immune system, you see.

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