National & International

Future pandemics could be prevented by universal flu vaccines

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According to the BBC.

A vaccine that protects against all 20 types of flu has been developed, according to scientists.

This vaccine uses the same messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology as successful Covid vaccines.

In addition to updating the current annual flu vaccine to match the types circulating, it probably will not protect against new pandemic strains.

When the new vaccine was tested on ferrets and mice, it triggered high levels of antibodies that could be used to combat a number of diseases.

Antigens in the test can teach the immune system how to fight all 20 subtypes of influenza A and B viruses, the researchers report in the journal Science.

“The idea here is to have a vaccine that will give people a baseline level of immune memory to diverse flu strains,” Dr Scott Hensley, one of the scientists behind the work, at the University of Pennsylvania, said.

“There will be far less disease and death when the next flu pandemic occurs.”

It’s very promising

In 2009, an unusual virus jumped species to infect humans, causing the swine flu pandemic.

There are estimates that tens of millions of people died as a result of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

Director of the Institute for Global Health and Emerging Pathogens at Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York, Adolfo GarcĂ­a-Sastre, said: “Current influenza vaccines do not protect against influenza viruses with pandemic potential.

“This vaccine, if it works well in people, would achieve this.

“The studies are preclinical, in experimental models.

“They are very promising and, although they suggest a protective capacity against all subtypes of influenza viruses, we cannot be sure until clinical trials in volunteers are done.”

Estanislao Nistal, a virologist at San Pablo University, said: “All of this implies the potential for an easily and rapidly constructed universal vaccine that could be of great use in the event of a pandemic outbreak of a novel influenza virus.”


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