A universal flu vaccine has shown promise in Phase 1 clinical trials.
The vaccine was designed to protect against every strain of the flu, meaning immunity from it could be long-lasting. In a Phase 1 clinical trial, which had 66 participants, the vaccine showed no more side effects than the traditional flu vaccine, Science Magazine reported Monday.
The flu mutates, rendering antibodies ineffective and creating the need for a new yearly vaccine. A small part of the “head” of the influenza virus is what usually mutates, while the “stalk” of the virus tends to stay the same, according to the report. Typically, antibodies respond to the head of the virus, but the universal vaccine produces antibodies that react to the stalk of the virus, providing immunity that lasts longer. (RELATED: Trump To Sign Executive Order Prioritizing Americans Over Foreign Nations For COVID-19 Vaccine)
There’s no Operation Warp Speed for a universal flu vaccine, but the field has taken a small step forward with encouraging results from @florian_krammer and team’s clinical trial of a vaccine that focuses on the stalk of that viral surface protein.https://t.co/jdnPwaZbGa pic.twitter.com/Kyisk50V2h
— Jon Cohen (@sciencecohen) December 7, 2020
During the Phase 1 trial, 51 participants were given a flu vaccine and 15 were given a placebo. While the trial was only designed to test safety, researchers found that the antibodies triggered by the vaccine provided protection against the virus when they were transferred to mice, Science Magazine reported.
Florian Krammer, a virologist who helped create the vaccine, said that it will likely take another two years to finish developing it. It would then have to be tested in more large-scale studies over many years to prove that it’s more effective than the traditional flu vaccine.
Scientists have been racing to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. Both Pfizer and Moderna have applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their vaccines, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the vaccine will hopefully be widely available by the second quarter of 2021.