Modern technology has put men on the moon and deciphered the human genome. But when it comes to brewing up flu to make vaccines, science still turns to the incredible edible egg. Ever since the 1940s, vaccine makers have grown large batches of virus inside chicken eggs. But given that some 36,000 Americans die of flu each year, it’s remarkable that our first line of defense is still what Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson calls “the cumbersome and archaic egg-based production.” New cell-based technologies are in the pipeline, however, and may finally get the support they need now that the United States is faced with a critical shortage of flu vaccine. Although experts disagree on whether new ways of producing vaccine could have prevented a shortage like the one happening today, there is no doubt that the existing system has serious flaws.
Each year, vaccine manufacturers place advance orders for millions of specially grown chicken eggs. Meanwhile, public-health officials monitor circulating strains of flu, and each March they recommend three strains—two influenza A strains and one B strain—for manufacturers to include in vaccines. In the late spring and summer, automated machines inject virus into eggs and later suck out the influenza-rich goop. Virus from the eggs’ innards gets killed and processed to remove egg proteins and other contaminants before being packaged into vials for fall shipment.
Why has this egg method persisted for six decades? The main reason is that it’s reliable. But even though the eggs are reliable, they have serious drawbacks. One is the long lead time needed to order the eggs. That means it’s hard to make more vaccine in a hurry, in case of a shortage or unexpected outbreak. And eggs may simply be too cumbersome to keep up with the hundreds of millions of doses required to handle the demand for flu vaccine.
What’s more, some flu strains don’t grow well in eggs. Last year, scientists were unable to include the Fujian strain in the vaccine formulation. It was a relatively new strain, and manufacturers simply couldn’t find a quick way to adapt it so that it grew well in eggs. “We knew the strain was out there,” recalls Theodore Eickhoff of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, “but public-health officials were left without a vaccine—and, consequently, a more severe flu season.”
Worse, the viruses that pose the greatest threat might be hardest to grow in eggs. That’s because global pandemics like the one that killed over 50 million people between 1918 and 1920 are thought to occur when a bird influenza changes in a way that lets it cross the species barrier and infect humans. Since humans haven’t encountered the new virus before, they have little protective immunity. The deadly bird flu circulating in Asia in 1997 and 1998, for example, worried public-health officials because it spread to some people who handled birds and killed them—although the bug never circulated among humans. But when scientists tried to make vaccine the old-fashioned way, the bird flu quickly killed the eggs.
1.The moon-landing is mentioned in the first paragraph to illustrate_____.
［A］ technology cannot solve all of our human problems
［B］ progress in vaccine research for influenza has lagged behind
［C］ great achievements have been made by men in exploring the unknown
［D］ the development of vaccine production methods can not be stopped
2.What step is essential to the traditional production of flu vaccine?
［A］ Manufacturers implant the vaccine into ordered chicken eggs.
［B］ Scientists identify the exact strain soon after a flu pandemic starts.
［C］ Public health measures are taken as an important pandemic-fighting tool.
［D］ Viruses are deadened and made clean before being put into vaccine use.
3.The foremost reason why the egg-based method is defective lies in_____.
［A］ the complex process of vaccine production ［B］ its potential threat to human being
［C］ the low survival rate for new flu vaccines ［D］ its contribution to the flu vaccine shortage
4.Which of the following is true according to the passage?
［A］ Flu vaccines now mainly use egg-based technology.
［B］ A bird influenza has once circulated among humans.
［C］ Safety can be greatly improved with cell-culture vaccines.
［D］ Modern vaccine production methods are to replace egg-based methods.
5.In the author’s view, the new vaccine production method seems to be_____.
［A］ remarkable ［B］ criticized ［C］ efficient ［D］ accepted
答案： 1.B 2.D 3.C 4.A 5.D
（6）in the pipeline在准备中; 在完成中; 在进行中; (货物)运输中; 即将送递
（7）circulate（v.）循环；传播，流传；传递，传阅（~ sth. to sb.）
（11）lead time 前置时间，指完成一个程序或作业所需要的一段时间。