British scientists have announced that they are one step closer to developing a universal flu vaccine that could protect against all strains of the virus.
Existing flu vaccines can only protect against a few strains of the virus and must be administered annually prior to flu season. While the universal vaccine will require more than one initial dose, Sarah Gilbert, the University of Oxford’s lead researcher on the issue, believes patients will only need occasional boosters to maintain the effects of the inoculation.
Because the vaccine would require fewer doses, Nurse.com reports that there would be plenty available in the event of an influenza pandemic, such as the 2009 swine flu outbreak.
According to Gilbert, Oxford is conducting a trial with 22 participants to see how they respond to the medication. While the findings have not yet been published, Gilbert stated that tests show those who received the universal flu vaccine have greater resistance to the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 to 20% of Americans are infected with seasonal influenza each year, with approximately 200,000 people hospitalized with related complications. This is why it is critical to have adequate health insurance coverage.
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