Universal Flu Vaccine Could Protect Against Seasonal, Pandemic Influenza Viruses

Scientific American: 100 Years after the Lethal 1918 Flu Pandemic, We Are Still Vulnerable
Catharine I. Paules, medical officer in the Office of the Director at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIAID

“…[W]e must reexamine our approach to influenza vaccines so we can avert a repeat of [the 1918 influenza pandemic.] … The remarkable capacity of influenza viruses to undergo antigenic drift or shift to overcome and escape human population immunity leaves us vulnerable to a public health disaster potentially as serious as the 1918 pandemic. To meet this global health challenge, scientists are working to develop ‘universal influenza vaccines’ — new types of inoculations that can provide protection not only against changing seasonal influenza viruses but also against the inevitable pandemic viruses that will emerge in the future. … Although hurdles in the development of such universal vaccines are daunting, we are optimistic that we can apply existing tools and experimental approaches to meet the challenge. As we approach the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic, let us be reminded of the importance of this line of research in preventing a repeat of one of the most disastrous events in the history of global health” (9/15).