Home / News / India /  Can universal vaccine bring an end to the ‘flu season’? All you need to know about mRNA shot

A universal flu vaccine that works against 20 known influenza A and B viruses is likely to be available in the next two years and many experts are hopeful though it might not mean an end to flu seasons, it would practically replace the guess work that goes into developing annual shots months ahead of flu season each year. 

This experimental vaccine is based on the same mRNA technology that was highly successful in developing Covid jabs by Pfizer and Moderna that protected million across the world against the deadly virus. Here is all that you need to know about the universal flu vaccine. 

How are universal vaccines different from standard flu shots?

Seasonal flu vaccines, which protect against up to four strains of the virus, are updated every year to ensure they are a good match for flu viruses in circulation

Unlike standard flu vaccines, the experimental vaccine includes 20 different types in the hope of getting the immune system to recognize any flu virus it might encounter in the future, Reuters report pointed out. 

"The idea here is to have a vaccine that will give people a baseline level of immune memory to diverse flu strains, so that there will be far less disease and death when the next flu pandemic occurs," study leader Scott Hensley of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania said in a statement.

Can the universal vaccine write a success story?

Though the results from the animal tests are commendable, to call it to be a success story it has to go through clinical trials. 

“This vaccine has only been tested in animals to date and it will be important to investigate its safety and efficacy in humans," said Dr Andrew Freedman, a reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University told The Guardian. 

“It does seem a very promising approach to the goal of producing a universal flu vaccine as well as vaccines that protect against multiple members of other viral families such as rhino- and corona-viruses."

Adding to it Prof John Oxford, a neurologist at Queen Mary University in London, who was not involved in the work, told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, “I cannot emphasise enough what a breakthrough this paper is…The potential is huge, and I think sometimes we underestimate these big respiratory viruses."

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