Department of Defense Continues Flu Research

by: Matthew Potter
July 11, 2011

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One of the the threats that must be faced by the U.S. military today and its allies is that of biological warfare. This not only includes more exotic agents such as anthrax or the plague but also other more mundane diseases. At the same time the U.S. through the Department of Health and Human Services as well as Defense is also researching ways to protect the U.S. population and its own troops from pandemics.

If a large unit gets a flu or other disease outbreak it can render it ineffective for a significant period of time. During World War II for example many U.S. units had a lot of non-battle casualties from diseases such as malaria, trench foot and more exotic tropical ones such as yellow fever. An aggressive inoculation and preventative capability will help prevent those kind of outbreaks and maintain unit strength and capability.

With this in mind since over the last several years the U.S. has been funding research on new vaccines, better ways to mass produce them and stockpiles for these kind of eventualities. Vandalia Research just received a contract worth about $1 million to begin the research into scaling-up production and further development of their pandemic flu vaccine.

Since 2005 it has been estimated that the Federal government has spent over $2 billion on this type of research. Part of this was related to the failure to produce sufficient amounts of H1N1 flu vaccine in 2009. Much of the money has gone for ways to produce the vaccines using cellular reproduction rather then the traditional egg based system.

The U.S. should be expected to continue funding this type of research for the next several years as it develops new manufacturing processes and stockpiles of vaccines to protect against potential pandemic outbreaks.

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