The flu burden in India is huge; the total number of cases until October 1 this year had crossed 36,000 countrywide, and the number of deaths was close to 2,000.
‘The influenza A virus is a moving target. It changes year to year, and can morph into a pandemic infectious across a large region strain that can put the general population at risk.’
Influenza viruses annually affect about a billion people worldwide, and cause 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, mainly in the over-65 age group. Influenza viruses are classified into A, B, C and D types A and B are known to cause seasonal epidemics; C causes mild respiratory illness, but not an epidemic. Influenza D affects cattle.
A potentially groundbreaking seasonal flu vaccine developed by a team from Oxford University will be tested on around 2,000 humans aged 65 and above living in Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. The clinical trial, supported by the UK's National Institute for Health Research, will be carried out through Britain's publicly funded national healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS).
Professor Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the university and co-founder of Vaccitech, and her collaborators at the Jenner Institute have put in 10 years of work into the vaccine.
It is believed by the researchers that the new vaccine will provide stronger protection against the flu because of its different mechanism. It could also reduce the severity and duration of flu. The developers feel the vaccine could be a game changer for global health.