If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that the technology around developing a vaccine could change the effectiveness and universality of the influenza vaccine.
During a Thursday webinar with the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said there “has been an unprecedented use of new platforms to develop vaccines.”
“Remember, the flu vaccine, we still develop in eggs — chicken eggs,” she said. “Which seems really archaic, given that in six months we’ve developed Covid vaccines using these incredible platforms.”
“I think that if there’s any silver lining to the Covid pandemic, it will be — at least one of them will be — hopefully transferring some of these rocket-sort of science, really, really dramatically fast technologies and platforms to the influenza vaccine arena.”
Marrazzo said the pause taken for the AstraZeneca trial “should give people more reassurance that we will be sure to get a safe vaccine out, that we think is effective.”
“Studies are being conducted very, very cautiously and carefully,” she said.
Marrazzo said Operation Warp Speed’s name may have caused undue vaccine hesitancy among Americans, saying that the moniker, which gave people “confidence that we were moving fast, also made a lot of people nervous, because in some ways you would like a vaccine to come at warp speed, but you also don’t want the safety measures sacrificed.”
“The messaging has been the problem throughout this pandemic,” she said.
“We have not had a consistent national message for almost any aspect of pandemic control — whether it relates to how severe the illness is, whether it relates to whether masks are important, and whether it relates to when we’re going to get a vaccine.”
“If we could do anything for this winter season, it would be to have a reliable, trusted, consistent national message from trusted, scientifically informed leaders to get us through this and that’s what we need,” she said.