BiondVax announced today that priming with universal flu vaccine before boosting with a conventional bird flu H5N1 vaccine (containing a single strain from Clade 1) resulted in mice exhibiting a significantly higher level of immunity to the strain contained in the conventional bird flu vaccine and in addition, broadened immunity to other H5N1 flu strains (from Clade 2). Bird flu viruses are classified into two main families, Clade 1 and Clade 2. Conventional pandemic bird flu vaccines are strain-specific and therefore trigger immunity predominantly against the particular virus contained within the vaccine, either Clade 1 or Clade 2. In our most recent study, we show that this limitation of conventional bird flu vaccines can be overcome by priming with BiondVax’s universal flu vaccine, as mice administered BiondVax’s universal vaccine and then the conventional pandemic bird flu vaccine exhibit immunity to multiple bird flu strains from both clades. Indeed, BiondVax’s universal flu vaccine contains viral regions common to diverse strains, including H1N1 (swine flu), H5N1 (bird flu) and H7N9 (bird flu), and so can enhance all kinds of conventional strain-specific flu vaccines when administered in a prime-boost regimen: first the universal flu vaccine is administered (primer) and then a few weeks later the seasonal or pandemic flu vaccine is administered (boost). Furthermore, this new study confirms our earlier finding that priming with BiondVax’s universal flu vaccine overcomes another challenge of pandemic preparedness, namely the difficulty in supplying enough conventional bird flu vaccine to the population in time. For priming with BiondVax’s universal flu vaccine enables one instead of two conventional bird flu doses per person to be sufficient.
With multiple deadly H5N1 and H7N9 flu strains circulating in animals and humans globally, uncertainty about the identity of the next pandemic flu strain is driving governments to reconsider how best to protect their populations against an unknown virus. This uncertainty can be addressed by exploiting the capability of BiondVax’s universal flu vaccine to make a conventional pandemic flu vaccine effective against a broader array of pandemic strains. Governments worldwide should implement a Pandemic Preparedness Plan (PPP) whereby BiondVax’s universal flu vaccine is stockpiled during inter-pandemic phases to enable immediate response to ANY and ALL pandemic flu strains. Upon pandemic outbreak, the stockpiled universal flu vaccine would be administered immediately to the population while the pandemic strain is characterized and a conventional pandemic-specific vaccine is manufactured (takes up to 6 months). As indicated by multiple pre-clinical studies and human trials, priming with BiondVax’s universal flu vaccine would ensure that more people are protected against pandemic illness.
Dr Ron Babecoff, BiondVax’s CEO adds, “Priming with a universal flu vaccine is the only approach that enables pandemic preparedness ahead of flu outbreak, whatever the emerging strain, and at the same time, enables pandemic vaccine dose sparing and cross strain activity without resorting to adjuvant.”