Google-funded trials of universal flu jab have begun

The health startup, Vaccitech, is currently holding trials for a flu jab using funds from Google’s venture capital arm called GV. The trials are exciting and could pave the way for a global flu vaccination.

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The World Health Organization decides on the flu vaccine each year. It depends on the strains currently around the world and which are targeted by the vaccine.

The two flu seasons

There are two main flu times each year. February is the flu season in the northern hemisphere and September is the flu season for the southern hemisphere. The flu vaccine each year can protect up to 80 percent of people that receive the jab. However, the real figure can sometimes be much lower if the correct strains of the virus have not been identified.

The current trials are for a potential universal vaccine, which will hopefully be able to treat people all over the world against all types of flu strains. It is hoping to protect people against the main flu strain, which is type A, in one single jab.

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A combined vaccine

By combining the flu vaccine with other recommended vaccines, it is hoped the new jab can protect against 50 percent of flu strains. These types of Adaptive Phase 1 Clinical Studies are performed by expert pharmacologists, such as RichmondPharmacology, and these trials are vital in making sure the vaccines are safe, effective and ready for release.

In the case of this flu vaccine, it is now starting its second year of a two-year trial. Over two thousand people are involved in the process, and depending on the results of this phase, the vaccine will then be combined with other vaccines. This should help to create an even more effective flu vaccine.

The new vaccine will target proteins within the flu virus to disable it. Normally a vaccine only works against specific strains and this is the first time a multi-strain vaccine has travelled so far through clinical trials.

Flu pandemics

Up to half a million people die every year from flu-related illnesses. In 1918, 15 million people died from a flu pandemic across the world. There were more casualties in smaller crises in 1957 and 1968.

Without effective vaccines, such as the one currently in trials, it is likely we will see another flu pandemic at some point.