In a breakthrough, researchers have developed a vaccine that can protect us from up to 88 percent of the known strains of the flu virus. What’s striking is that one doze of this universal vaccine is enough to fight almost any flu strain.
An international team of scientists took the help of computers and computational techniques to spot the components of vaccine called epitropes that will provide broader, longer-lasting protection against the flu virus. After extensive research, study authors came up with two vaccines — first one dedicated to people in the US that provides protection against 95 percent of the known flu virus and second vaccine is for entire world that provides protection against 88 percent of the known flu virus.
Researchers have tested the vaccine and found it effective on most of the occasions but it also failed miserable few times causing several deaths. Lead study author Derek Gatherer said that annual flu epidemics cause millions of deaths every year and taking help of computers to design a universal vaccine is an effective solution that gives much broader and longer-lasting protection.
While explaining, another study author Pedro Reche said that the vaccine is made of several components known as epitropes (short flu virus fragment). Type of epitrope determines the level of protection the vaccine will offer.
It is not the first time that researchers have manufactured epitrope in order to prevent epidemic death. Previously, researchers did design some epitropes but they were not that effective in offering protection against the flu. It is the first time that researchers have found a perfect combination to fight nearly all the known flu virus.
In order to prevent deaths, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides regular flu shots, but there reach last year was just 46 percent. With universal vaccine, number of people getting the flu shots will increase 64 percent.
“If we could increase vaccination coverage in this country by just 5 percent, that would prevent about 800,000 illnesses and nearly 10,000 hospitalizations,” said Tom Frieden, CDC director.
The study appeared in the journal Bioinformatics.