Every year millions of Americans line up to get their seasonal flu shot and every year scientists have to make their best prediction of what strains of flu will be most likely to infect the population the coming season to create that season’s flu vaccine. The reason for this is that the flu virus has thousands of strains that mutate throughout the season. Ergo, even the best prediction cannot protect from all strains. That uncertainty equates to a seasonal flu vaccine that provides protection but is not 100% effective.
To improve this measure of effectiveness, two teams of researchers say they are now one step closer to developing a universal vaccine that would protect against all strains of influenza. Although some parts of the flu virus evolve, there are other parts of the virus that remain stable year after year. These parts are also relatively the same between different strains of flu. In two research studies published in the journal Science and the journal Nature Medicine, separate research teams describe how they created novel flu vaccines that targeted a part of a molecule that is found on the surface of the flu virus that is similar across different flu strands and mutates far less often. As a result, universal vaccines target the immune system at these relatively stable parts of the virus. These experimental vaccines prevented deaths or reduced symptoms in mice, ferrets and monkeys infected with different types of flu, raising hopes for a reliable alternative to the seasonal vaccine. While this milestone is promising for a day when we have access to a vaccine that will provide immunity against all strains of influenza over a lifetime, development of a more universal vaccine will likely be years away.
If you think you or someone you know has been injured by a vaccine, compensation for the injury may be available. To find out if you qualify to file a case under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program contact us and let the vaccine litigation experts at RawlsMcNelis provide the answers.