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All-out push for COVID-19 vaccine might be replicated with flu | READER COMMENTARY

Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive who heads the Trump administration's multi-billion dollar effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, at the White House on May 15, 2020. Slaoui's financial ties to some of the companies that are pursuing coronavirus vaccines have raised questions about conflicts of interest.
Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive who heads the Trump administration's multi-billion dollar effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, at the White House on May 15, 2020. Slaoui's financial ties to some of the companies that are pursuing coronavirus vaccines have raised questions about conflicts of interest. (Samuel Corum/The New York Times)

It is of note that the French drug maker Sanofi has secured an agreement of up to $2.1 billion to supply the U.S. government with 100 million doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine, bringing the Trump administration’s investment in coronavirus vaccine projects to more than $8 billion (“Sanofi, GSK snag largest virus vaccine deals to date,” August 1).

Worldwide, there are more than 100 potential vaccines with about 20 in active clinical trials. It is heartening to see private-public partnership efforts moving forward at such a rapid pace. After the approval of one or more effective vaccines, it would certainly be in the country’s best interest to see a similar effort to develop a more effective influenza vaccine, especially one that does not have to be reformulated and re-administered every year.

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Even in the absence of a pandemic, in the U.S. influenza annually results in 9-to-45 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000-to-61,000 deaths. Hopefully, lessons learned from coronavirus vaccine development will serve as a model for rapid development of a better “flu” vaccine with the potential for huge public health and economic benefits.

Dr. Beryl Rosenstein, Baltimore

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