Enterovirus D68 virus vaccine project gets funding termination

Image copyright EPA Image caption The oral vaccine won key approvals in November

Federal health officials have cancelled a multimillion-dollar contract that would have led to production of an adult oral vaccine against a deadly respiratory disease.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced its decision in a brief online statement.

The decision means a US-based manufacturer called CoVim is barred from an urgent government request to develop and manufacture a vaccine against the virus that causes pneumonia, named Enterovirus D68.

The decision follows the recent deaths of two California children.

Officials investigating the deaths say the children were likely infected with Enterovirus D68.

NTSO vaccines – including but not limited to Enterovirus D68 – are made by Biocompatibles Inc, which is based in California.

Biocompatibles manufactures an adult oral vaccine – known as dengue – and shipped 3.2 million doses of the vaccine to Georgia last year as part of an expanded availability programme for the disease.

Earlier this month NIAID ordered the company to build a manufacturing facility where it could keep up with demand.

In a May 22 announcement, Biocompatibles said it would delay construction of a new facility due to tight federal budget deadlines.

“Given the current climate with both Congress and the federal government, production of the Enterovirus D68 adult oral vaccine won’t begin in the near term. The contract has been cancelled,” NIAID spokesman Steve Morse said.

“The contracting authority has approved a further modification to the Biocompatibles-Endura contract, which will authorize NCI to procure either a single-dose vial, or a combination of supplies that includes both vials,” he added.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Three people have died in the US from Enterovirus D68

Two infants died last month from Enterovirus D68. One was two-month-old Marshall Conley. The other was a girl who was 13 months old.

The CDC said a third infant died in Baltimore after becoming infected with the virus, though they were unsure how she contracted it.

Evidence suggests adults infected with the virus may be more vulnerable than children and are more likely to develop paralysis, the CDC said.

Evaluations of children with paralysis and the use of isolation units at serious institutions are better, said CDC chief medical officer Tom Frieden.

“But they’re not optimally matched with the number of adults who have either the disease or are currently getting infected.

“So, the best option is to study adults to figure out how to treat them better.”

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