The yellow fever vaccine is very effective and lasts a lifetime. Yet hundreds of people in Angola died unnecessarily of the disease in 2016 when the country ran out of the vaccine that is expensive and time-consuming to produce.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Magdeburg have since developed a method that can produce 80 times more vaccine viruses in one go than the conventional method.
Using a probe, they can now continuously measure how many cells live in the bioreactor, which means they can automatically adjust the amount of feed to the cells. The cells are later infected with the virus and killed.
In this way, 10 million doses of vaccine can be produced in two weeks – that’s the entire global supply of yellow fever vaccine in just 14 days.
The new method has yet to be put into practice, with considerable research work still ahead.