The flu vaccine you get from your doctor, may or may not be effective depending on what kind of flu virus attacks your body. There is not one vaccine that protects from all kinds of flu bugs, so every year someone decides what kind of flu is going to effect the world and the annual flu vaccine is developed to attack that specific kind of virus. That might all change as the Israeli company BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is developing an universal flu (influenza) vaccine, providing a multi-season/multi-strain and long-term protection against a variety of flu viruses. The universal flu vaccine is currently in phase 1 clinical trials in humans.
There are three types of influenza virus: A, B and C. Influenza A viruses are found in humans and animals, whereas B and C are found only in humans. The C type virus is rare and usually causes a very mild disease and therefore is not covered by currently available vaccines. The B type virus is often limited to local outbreaks (20% of influenza cases) and their surface proteins are considered to be relatively stable. Influenza type A viruses are the most common and are considered to be the major cause for widespread epidemics and pandemics. This is due to the frequent changes in their surface proteins which the human immune system recognizes as foreign antigens.
Influenza viruses are species dependent (bird flu, swine flu, equine flu etc.) while the migratory birds serve as the reservoir for influenza strains. Antigenic drifts and shifts trigger seasonal epidemics or even a worldwide pandemic of influenza, such as occurred in 1918, 1957, 1968, 1976, 1977 and 1997 (Spanish, Asian, Hong Kong, Swine, Russian and Avian Flu, respectively). Pandemics happen every 10-30 years following a major antigenic shift resulting from a cross species infection.
Now imagine if you could get one flu shot that would last for three to five years, and protect you from all the different strains of flu around the world?
That’s exactly what Israeli company BiondVax Pharmaceuticals is developing.
Unlike current flu vaccines which can only protect people from a few strains of the virus every year, BiondVax is developing a universal flu vaccine that could be effective against almost any type of flu, from the regular seasonal ones, to avian flu, and even pandemic flu viruses like swine flu.(Source Israel 21)