Researchers Working to Create Universal Flu Vaccine

It's National Influenza Vaccination Week. Cleveland Clinic researchers are working to create a universal flu vaccine, which wouldn't need to be updated annually like it does now.

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CLEVELAND – Every year, a new flu shot is created based on different factors, like which types of the virus are expected to be the most common. 

But, that could change in the future. 

Cleveland Clinic researchers are working on a flu vaccine that wouldn’t need to be modified annually.  
 
“The development of next generation vaccine, the goal has been to come up with a vaccine strategy that work against all strains that circulate now, as well as circulate in the future, strains that don’t even yet exist,” explained Ted Ross, PhD, Global Director of Vaccine Development at Cleveland Clinic.
 
Dr. Ross said by making a vaccine that covers all the flu strains, people would have immunity both now and in the future. 

It would also eliminate annual flu shots.
 
So rather than having to get a shot every year, he said you would only need to get one every couple of years. 

That convenience may also encourage more people to get vaccinated.  

Dr. Ross notes that the vaccine will have to be updated once in a while and won’t be able to eradicate the flu completely. 

That’s because the virus is present in animals as well.  
 
“The viruses that have been eradicated or close to eradications for humans are strains of viruses that only circulate in people,” he said. “For example, smallpox. Smallpox was only a human pathogen. As long as there is a zoonotic reservoir out there, we’ll probably never get rid of flu.” 
 
Dr. Ross said research for this vaccine has been in the works for 20 years. 

Clinical trials will begin at the end of 2024.  

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