Published: Wed, November 08, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Penn study pinpoints why last year's flu shot was a dud

Penn study pinpoints why last year's flu shot was a dud

Officials with the health department also said people who get the flu should stay home until 24 hours after your fever is gone without the help of fever reducing medicine.

The World Health Organization estimates the flu virus results in 1 billion infections, 3 to 5 million cases of severe disease and 300,000 to 500,000 deaths annually. Traditional flu shot basically contains feeble and dead version of flu viruses.

Scientists are working to make annual flu shots a thing of the past with a universal flu vaccine that would protect against most or all seasonal and pandemic strains.

Flu viruses mutating rapidly within a short period of time is the major problem faced by researchers, thus confusing them on the characteristic of the flu which basically changes with each passing year. Some protection is better than no protection from what can be a very serious illness.

But the researchers hope that their approach might one day lead to a "universal" flu vaccine that would provide long-term protection against flu viruses.

The flu can kill people, including healthy adults. Most of the vaccines we receive use purified proteins from a virus grown in chicken eggs, while others use antigens grown through alternative methods.

"An ideal influenza vaccine would be affordable, provide long-lasting immunity, require few immunizations and would work against all variants of the virus", Weaver said. For example they may have got a food vaccine and got sick anyway. Once injected, these viruses stimulate the body's immune system to act against a protein that extends from the surface of the flu virus. "It's a virus that spreads quite easily, it's a virus that spreads before any symptoms are even visible".

Experts worry it could be a hard season if H3N2 dominates. The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can not transmit infection.

Because the study was conducted in mice, it's too soon to say whether the vaccine would successfully work in humans. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to become protected. "Our data suggest that we should invest in new technologies to significantly increase the production of influenza vaccines that do not depend on eggs", he argued.

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