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Source: The post is based on the article “One step closer to a universal flu vaccine?” published in Economic Times on 1st December 2022.
What is the News?
Researchers are working on a universal flu vaccine that works against 20 known influenza A and B viruses.
How is this universal vaccine different from the current vaccine?
Broadly speaking, there are 20 subgroups of influenza that each represents thousands of viruses.
Current vaccines can target four subgroups at most. These current vaccines also need to be updated every year to ensure they are a good match for flu viruses in circulation.
But the experimental vaccine includes 20 different types in the hope of getting the immune system to recognize any flu virus it might encounter in the future.
Hence, the idea here is to have a vaccine that will give people a baseline level of immune memory to diverse flu strains so that there will be far less disease and death when the next flu pandemic occurs.
What is the significance of this development?
This universal flu vaccine is based on the same mRNA technology used in the highly successful Covid jabs.
But it has only been tested in animals to date, and it will be important to investigate its safety and efficacy in humans.
But this development is a very promising approach to the goal of producing a universal flu vaccine as well as vaccines that protect against multiple members of other viral families such as rhino and corona-viruses.