Last week Acambis announced positive results in their clinical trial of a new influenza vaccine that targets a conserved region of the influenza A virus. A successful vaccine such as this could end the need for yearly reformulation of the influenza vaccine and could be a vaccine for the next influenza pandemic.
Influenza remains a serious public health threat and currently vaccines must be changed yearly to follow virus mutations. As pointed out in Effect Measure, the recently released CDC 2005 Causes of Death show that influenza and pneumonia are serious causes of mortality in the U.S.
“Note that the first contagious disease to make an appearance on the list is influenza and pneumonia, at number eight. In fact it is the only contagious disease on the list of the top fifteen causes of death.”
A universal influenza vaccine has tremendous public health implications. It is good to see influenza vaccine research moving forward again even if it takes the threat of a pandemic to do so.