This year’s deadly flu made the quest for a universal flu shot more urgent

(Last Updated On: March 8, 2018)

At least 40 different universal flu vaccine candidates are being developed right now, but a flu season without the flu is still a long way away.Flu

The goal is to create a vaccine that can protect people against a broad range of flu viruses for at least a year or longer. Doing this would mean no more guessing about which strains will be circulating the following year. More broadly effective vaccines could make for fewer sick people. Some universal flu shot candidates are already being tested in people, and the companies that figure out how to make a universal flu shot stand to make a lot of money.

They also stand to solve a big public health problem because the flu can be serious, even fatal. This year, the flu sent a record number of people to the hospitaland killed at least 114 kids in the US alone. Children, the elderly, the immunocompromised, and even the apparently healthy are all at risk from the seasonal flu viruses we were expecting. If a pandemic virus were to emerge unexpectedly, even more people could die. The 1918 Spanish flu killed 50 million people, for instance. The relatively mild swine flu pandemic in 2009 killed more than 280,000.

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