President Donald J. Trump on Thursday signed an Executive Order, “Modernizing Influenza Vaccines in the United States to Promote National Security and Public Health.” With this action, the Trump administration will promote new vaccine manufacturing technologies to enable the production of vaccine doses faster and in greater quantities than is currently possible.
Reduced production times will allow experts to better match vaccines to actively circulating influenza viruses, making them more effective in treating seasonal influenza. Additionally, more robust, secure, and responsive vaccines will aid the response in the event of a pandemic influenza. Finally, this Executive Order will advance the development of vaccines that last longer and protect against a broader array of influenza viruses.
Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Alex Azar said, “President Trump’s executive order to modernize influenza vaccine manufacturing reflects his commitment both to America’s national security and to America’s health. Faster methods of producing influenza vaccines will help keep Americans safer both from seasonal influenza, which kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, and from the potential of pandemic influenza, which is the single greatest biodefense threat our country faces.
Under this executive order, HHS will lead on coordinating and advancing work to modernize influenza vaccine production, as part of the important work we do to protect Americans from all infectious threats, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or manmade.”
Each year, seasonal influenza vaccines prevent millions of cases of disease and thousands of deaths in the United States. Additionally, in the event of an influenza pandemic, the virus could kill more than half a million Americans and inflict trillions of dollars of damage on our economy. Unfortunately, many of the vaccines we use today are produced overseas, using time-consuming, egg-based technology, which limits their effectiveness and makes production too slow to effectively combat a potential deadly influenza pandemic.