Universal Flu Vaccine Coming Within The Next Few Years

Flu vaccine coming soon, which will protect against all strains

A universal flu vaccine that protects against all strains may be available within the next five years, replacing regular annual shots, according to the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The research was led by NIAID scientist Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D. and was conducted using experiments on mice, monkeys and ferrets.

Mice and ferrets produced antibodies not only against Influenza virus strains dating from before 1999, including a strain that emerged in 1934, but also against strains that emerged in 2006 and 2007, according to NIAID website.

Nabel has expressed his excitement at the results of the research.

“Generating broadly neutralizing antibodies to multiple strains of influenza in animals through vaccination is an important milestone in the quest for a universal influenza vaccine,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

“A durable and effective universal influenza vaccine would have enormous ramifications for the control of influenza, a disease that claims an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 lives annually, including an average of 36,000 in the United States,” he said.

According to the NIAID website, current flu vaccines do not generate such broadly neutralizing antibodies, so they must be re-formulated annually to match the predominant virus strains circulating each year.

That is why there are new types of vaccines every year because of new strains of influenza. The vaccine targets proteins inside the virus, rather than those on the outer part, which often mutate and then requires new mixtures of the flu shot to be created yearly.

According to Fauci, the flu claims about 250,000 to 500,000 lives yearly across the world, of which 36,000 are in the U.S.

Trials of prime-boost influenza vaccines, assessing the safety and ability of the vaccine to generate immune responses are already under way in humans, Dr. Nabel adds.