Universal Flu Vaccine Could Help Strengthen Pandemic Preparedness
A universal influenza vaccine has long been the Holy Grail of protection against the disease and the threat of a pandemic, but progress has been slow in its development. Now a new initiative is being launched at The Task Force for Global Health to accelerate the development of a vaccine that could provide long-term protection against multiple flu strains.
Called the Global Funders’ Consortium for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development, the project will bring together influenza experts and funding agencies to coordinate funding and develop a consensus vision for activities necessary for the development a game-changing universal flu vaccine.
“The availability of a universal flu vaccine would significantly improve our readiness for the next global influenza pandemic,” said Joseph Bresee, MD, director of the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction at The Task Force. “It will also improve seasonal influenza prevention by reducing many of the operational challenges associated with flu vaccination programs.”
Many low- and middle-income countries have difficulty supporting seasonal influenza vaccine programs because of cost and logistics. New vaccines must be developed and administered each year to protect against the regular emergence of new virus strains. These vaccines also provide only a short duration of protection.
Bresee explained that a universal flu vaccine would provide a broader and more long-lasting protection against seasonal and pandemic strains. It would also be more cost-effective for low- and middle-income countries to administer to their populations.
The consortium will kick off this year with the establishment of a strategic planning committee. The consortium’s first meeting is planned for fall 2017.
The consortium is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.