Research Community Should Focus Efforts On Developing Universal Flu Vaccine

Los Angeles Times: A world without flu? It’s possible
Editorial Board

“…[I]t’s time for the [U.S.] to focus its efforts on developing universal flu vaccines that provide long-term protection from all strains. … [U]niversal vaccines are well within the realm of possibility. … There’s also hope for improved if not quite universal vaccines as soon as five years from now. That prospect is why Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has made it an agency priority to push for better vaccines. Another motivating factor: the risk of a flu pandemic that reaches Stephen King-like proportions. It’s been a century since the Spanish flu infected as much as a third of the global population, and epidemiologists say humanity is due for another “Big One.” Because pandemics happen when influenza viruses make huge mutations, rather than small shifts, seasonal flu shots would offer little to no protection. Let’s not wait until then to stop treating the flu like a familiar, if troublesome, annual house guest. Finding a better way to fight this serial killer needs to be given at least as much urgency as attacking the next sexy virus that pops up in the news” (1/26).

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