If you’ve watched the news or heard anything about the flu this season than you’ve probably heard that it hasn’t been going so well. According to the Journal of Family Practice, the 2017-2018 flu vaccine has been reported to only be about 34% effective against influenza A and 56% for influenza B.
Because the flu virus is constantly changing, scientists are challenged with reviewing the vaccine each year. The flu vaccines are then updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick, the extent to which those viruses are spreading, and how well the previous season’s vaccine protects against those viruses.
We have some exciting news, though. Although we’re aren’t quite there yet, a universal flu vaccine is in the works. A company in the UK, Vaccitech, is currently conducting a clinical trial of what could become the first universal flu vaccine in the world. In the United States, Inovio Pharmaceuticals is conducting their own research for a universal vaccine.
The launch of a universal flu vaccine would be extremely beneficial for global public health and eliminate the need for annual injections. Additional benefits of a universal flu vaccine may include the following:
- Targets flu viruses in a different way.
- Reduce flu transmission more effectively than conventional flu vaccines.
- Slow the development of new strains of flu virus.
- Strengthen the immunity of a population, allowing protection against the emergence of dangerous pandemic strains.
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