Science Questions

How many 'flu-vaccine doses from an egg?

Sun, 13th Dec 2009

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Question

Ros asked:

How many 'flu inoculations can you make from a single egg? Secondly, how do people ensure that the eggs that are used donít contain the bird flu virus?

Answer

Chris -  The answer is that you put the vaccine virus into the egg, which has a chick inside.  The chick turns into chicken soup with some 'flu added.  You get the 'flu out, purify it and you end up with about three doses per egg. 

So, if you do some maths, if you want to immunise the entire population of the U.K. with, letís say (for "eggs-ample"), 60 million to make the numbers easy, you would need - just for the U.K. - 20 million laboratory grade chickenís eggs.  So a lot is the answer.

In terms of egg-safety, the eggs used are laboratory grade eggs.  They are high-grade, disease-free, guaranteed to be safe chickens' eggs.  And also, the testing that goes on is incredibly rigorous.  The eggs are tested, the vaccine progeny is testesd and what comes out is tested to make sure that thereís nothing in there that shoudn't be.

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