How Swine Flu Vaccines Are Like Disco

Jon is a staff writer for Science.

Pandemics make strange bedfellows—in this case, public health advocates and defense hawks.

The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism has posted a video that asks why the United States still relies on an age-old, egg-based technology to makes its influenza vaccines. “Wouldn’t it have been nice if the H1N1 vaccine had been available for our school children BEFORE the school year started?” asks former Governor and Senator Bob Graham (D–FL) and former Senator Jim Talent (R—MO).

The retired politicians, chair and vice chair of the commission, take us back to the year each man graduated from high school to remind us that egg-based vaccine technology is as much of a relic as dial telephones, disco dancing, and the AMC Gremlin. The video doesn’t explain that attempts to move past eggs are underway in the United States, though that's explained on the commission’s Web site. But the video makes it clear that when it comes to flu vaccines, we’re living in the technological stone age.

Posted in Health