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Trump Issues Executive Order on Influenza Vaccine Modernization

A National Influenza Vaccine Task Force has been established, which will develop a 5-year plan to promote new vaccine manufacturing technology and to accelerate the development of a universal flu vaccine.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Thursday, September 19, 2019, in an attempt to improve and modernize influenza vaccine manufacturing processes to develop vaccines that provide more effective and longer lasting protection.

The order directly refers to the method of egg-based vaccine production as being outdated and calls upon expansion or implementation of alternative methods that would allow for quicker responses to emerging influenza virus.

“It is the policy of the United States to modernize the domestic influenza vaccine enterprise to be highly responsive, flexible, scalable, and more effective at preventing the spread of influenza viruses,” the order reads.

The executive order acknowledges influenza as a public health and national security priority due to the potential to inflict harm on the United States through large-scale illness and death, as well as disruption of the nation’s activities.

Under the order, a National Influenza Vaccine Task Force has been established. The goal of the Task Force is to compile a report, which includes a 5-year plan to promote new vaccine manufacturing technology and to accelerate the development of a universal flu vaccine.

The report, which must be submitted within 120 days of the order, will also include the Task Force’s recommendations for including multi-sector partnership, innovation, and guidance for increasing the uptake of vaccination against influenza among vulnerable populations.

The Task Force will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (or their designees). The committee will also consist of senior officials from the Departments of Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

In addition to this report, the Task Force will also be required to submit an updated 5-year implementation of the actions outlined in report by June 1. This plan will include updated recommendations for achieving the goal of improving influenza vaccines, as well as updates to cost estimates and incentive evaluations.

“Because the market does not sufficiently reward speed, and because [an influenza] pandemic has the potential to overwhelm or compromise essential government functions, including defense and homeland security, the government must take action to promote faster and more scalable manufacturing platforms,” the statement says.