The flu vaccine this year was ineffective against the strain of flu that made millions ill. Do you understand why? This is the reason.
Scientists use flu surveillance data to pick a few strains of the virus that they think are most likely to be active in the coming flu season. Then they put them into the annual flu shot using dead versions of these flu strains. The aim of this approach is to teach the body to produce antibodies against the surface proteins of these viruses if the virus is invading the person’s body.
If the scientists guess correctly the immunization works. Sometimes they guess wrong as they did this year.
In order to produce a more effective vaccine scientists are examining many flu viruses that circulate in the wild looking for mutations that respond to interferon. Scientists have identified eight such mutations and have used them to build a mutant live-virus vaccine. The significant fact is that this vaccine not only causes the body to produce antibodies against the specific flu strains but it also provokes a non specific immune reaction that attacks other flu strains.that are not in the vaccine. In other words this could become a universal vaccine that would protect against against the flu irregardless of the viral strain.
This work is exciting and encouraging but there are many hoops to jump through before it will be approved for human use.