The news about the H1N1 flu pandemic has taken a new and potentially troubling turn. First, the US government has given legal immunity to the companies that make antivirals and the flu vaccine. Second, it has suspended the usual requirement for testing for safety and efficacy. This would be troubling if the manufacturers were preparing a variation of the normal flu vaccine, with the H1N1 antigen replacing the usual mix of flu viruses. But the very disturbing development is that the flu vaccine will likely contain a new and poorly tested additive
, a more powerful vaccine adjuvant. An adjuvant is a substance that strengthens the body's immune response to the vaccinr antigen, in this case the killed flu virus. Currently the FDA only allows aluminum salts to be used as vaccine adjuvants. The new oil based adjuvants have been used on a limited basis in Europe, but are comparatively untested. Introducing a new type of adjuvant without the usual safety testing to millions of Americans who will have no legal recourse if the vaccine injures them seems the height of folly. It seems to me that the vaccine manufacturers are using the panic over the H1N1 flu to wedge a new drug into the market without the usual tests. Once it is accepted in the flu vaccine, it will be easier to get it accepted in other vaccines. Thus the government and these companies are placing an unacceptable risk on people's lives for the sake of the profit of a few. But 'twas ever thus.
If you want to follow the news about the flu vaccine, I'd suggest reading the Anthrax Vaccine Blog
, which recently has been covering the issue.