Even before you get to talk about problems with flu vaccine effectiveness, it becomes clear that everyone wants a better flu vaccine.
One big problem with the current generation of flu vaccines?
You have to get them each and every year.
Developing a Better Flu Vaccine
So what would we all want in a new and better flu vaccine?
- last longer, so you didn’t have to get a new vaccine every year
- be more effective
- cover more flu vaccine strains, so it wasn’t a “guess” about which flu strains to include in the flu vaccine each year and we didn’t have to worry about drifted flu vaccine strains or new and emerging strains for which there is no vaccine
A universal flu vaccine, which covers all possible flu strains, would be ideal.
So why haven’t we been working on developing a universal flu vaccine?
Well, we have.
It just isn’t that easy.
Many different research teams have been working on a universal flu vaccine for years and some have already had some success.
Does that mean we will see a universal flu vaccine soon?
Unfortunately, of the almost 40 organizations working on improved flu vaccines, including a universal flu vaccine, about 30 are still in preclinical or phase 1 trials. So the answer is no, we will not see a universal flu vaccine soon.
The Strategic Plan to Develop a Universal Influenza Vaccine
Maybe that will change now that more and more folks are pushing for a better flu vaccine and we see the effects of severe flu seasons without a good vaccine.
Of course, talk isn’t enough.
“A priority for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is development of an influenza vaccine providing durable protection against multiple influenza strains, including those that may cause a pandemic, i.e., a universal influenza vaccine. To invigorate research efforts, NIAID developed a strategic plan focused on knowledge gaps in three major research areas, as well as additional resources required to ensure progress towards a universal influenza vaccine. NIAID will use this plan as a foundation for future investments in influenza research and will support and coordinate a consortium of multidisciplinary scientists focused on accelerating progress towards this goal.”
Erbelding et al on A Universal Influenza Vaccine: The Strategic Plan for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
That’s why it is also encouraging that we have seen the:
- the Pathway to a Universal Influenza Vaccine workshop convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 2017
- the Strategic Plan for Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine by the NIAID that was announced in 2018
- U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Flu Vaccine Act, which would invest $1 billion towards development of a universal flu vaccine
Knowing that developing a universal flu vaccine is a priority of the NIAID and that so many organizations are already working towards this goal is very reassuring.
Hopefully we are a lot closer than some folks thing.
Until then, a seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to avoid the flu and serious flu complications.
What to Know About Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine
Developing a better flu vaccine, including a universal flu vaccine, is an even bigger priority with the announcement of the Strategic Plan for Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine.
More on Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine
- A Universal Influenza Vaccine: The Strategic Plan for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
- The Pathway to a Universal Influenza Vaccine
- Universal Influenza Vaccine Research
- Universal influenza vaccines: Shifting to better vaccines
- CIDRAP Comprehensive Influenza Vaccine Initiative
- Study – Safety and immunogenicity of multimeric-001–a novel universal influenza vaccine.
- Study – Synthetic Influenza vaccine (FLU-v) stimulates cell mediated immunity in a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled Phase I trial.