The flu season has just started in North America. However, if North America’s flu season is anything like Australia’s, then it will be a bad one. Dr. Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He stated that the United States could have a bad flu season. Dr. Fauci also stated that this flu season could be a lot like the 2014 season. The 2014 flu season was a bad one because the vaccine was a poor match for the flu strain.
Public health officials in Australia stated that there were above-average hospitalizations and deaths from the flu. The influenza A virus was the most common flu strain. The vaccine that the Australians received was only 10 percent effective. Americans are receiving the same vaccine. Last year, the vaccines were only 34 percent effective. That is why health officials are predicting that America will have a bad flu season.
Dr. Fauci stated that scientists need to develop a universal flu vaccine. Viruses have a tendency to mutate over time, which makes the vaccine less effective. It is estimated that 40,000 lives were saved by the flu vaccine by 2005 to 2014. If a universal flu vaccine is available, then scientists will not have to worry about trying to find the right strain. Current vaccines are developed based on the previous year’s flu strain, which creates a high chance of a mismatch.
There are not any risks associated with developing a universal flu vaccine. The vaccine is made from genetically-engineered proteins. Eggs are not used in universal flu vaccines. It may be several years before a universal flu vaccine is available. There are clinical trials being conducted. Some vaccines have been tested on animals. Dr. Fauci stated that developing a universal vaccine should be a high priority.