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Future of Vaccines! Scientists Create 'Universal Flu Vaccine' That Could Prevent Millions of Deaths

Oct 01, 2016 07:20 AM EDT

Millions could be saved by the recently developed "universal vaccine," scientists claim.

According to Science Daily, there were two universal vaccines developed by an international team of scientists: a USA-specific vaccine with coverage of 95 percent of known U.S. influenza strains and a universal vaccine with coverage of 88 percent of known flu strains globally.

"Every year we have a round of flu vaccination, where we choose a recent strain of flu as the vaccine, hoping that it will protect against next year's strains. We know this method is safe, and that it works reasonably well most of the time," Dr Derek Gatherer of Lancaster University said in a statement.

"However, sometimes it doesn't work -- as in the H3N2 vaccine failure in winter 2014-2015 -- and even when it does it is immensely expensive and labour-intensive. Also, these yearly vaccines give us no protection at all against potential future pandemic flu."

Stat News Flu explains vaccines work by exposing the immune system "to proteins on the exterior of influenza viruses that have been rendered harmless." The vaccines prepare the immune system to be ready once it has come across the particular virus included in the vaccine by developing antibodies to fight them off.

Recalling the 1918 Influenza, also dubbed as the Mother of All Pandemics, the scientist note that it is important to develop vaccines to avoid massive deaths.

The 1918 Influenza, as stated by Stanford killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people, more than the number of deaths during the World War I.

Dr Gatherer said: "It doesn't have to be this way. Based on our knowledge of the flu virus and the human immune system, we can use computers to design the components of a vaccine that gives much broader and longer-lasting protection."

Meanwhile, the scientists are still looking for partners for a laboratory proof-of-principle test.

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