Flu Vaccine Research
Right now, the world is consumed with efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But it’s important to remember another serious disease. Depending on the strain, influenza results in between 200,000 and 800,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States and about 12,000 to 61,000 deaths. The Nebraska Center for Virology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is part of the effort to produce a more effective vaccine for influenza.
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[00:00:03.170]The influenza vaccine reduces the risk
[00:00:05.730]of illness and death,
[00:00:07.320]but every year, the vaccine has to be matched
[00:00:09.960]to the strain of flu circulating in the population,
[00:00:12.770]and immunity is short-term.
[00:00:14.840]The actual immunity that you get wanes over time,
[00:00:17.860]so if you get vaccinated in October,
[00:00:20.550]in April or May you may no longer be protected
[00:00:23.640]even against that same strain.
[00:00:25.730]Virologist Eric Weaver is at work
[00:00:27.850]on producing a better, longer lasting vaccine.
[00:00:31.500]Ultimately what we would love to have
[00:00:33.670]is a flu vaccine that was delivered
[00:00:36.370]in a pediatric vaccine
[00:00:38.310]that provided the foundation of immunity
[00:00:40.190]that could last for 20, 30, 40,
[00:00:42.370]maybe even 50 years before a booster was needed.
[00:00:45.950]A new grant from the
[00:00:46.930]National Institutes of Health builds on Weaver's research.
[00:00:50.630]The collaborative project explores using a virus
[00:00:53.860]that infects tobacco plants
[00:00:56.050]to deliver the vaccine
[00:00:57.620]and trigger the body's immune response.
[00:01:00.230]We'll take the influenza genes and insert 'em
[00:01:02.240]into the tobacco mosaic virus,
[00:01:04.630]grow that, and the great thing about it
[00:01:06.480]is you can grow lots and lots of it.
[00:01:08.120]It's a plant-based system.
[00:01:10.020]This flu season,
[00:01:11.090]protections against coronavirus,
[00:01:13.150]like face masks and reduced travel,
[00:01:15.300]could also affect influenza transmission.
[00:01:18.200]So it's likely that that'll have an impact on influenza.
[00:01:20.820]We may have one of our lowest levels of influenza spread
[00:01:24.187]that we've seen in a hundred years.
[00:01:26.420]But Weaver says don't forget your flu shot
[00:01:29.330]because vaccines don't work
[00:01:31.660]if no one gets them.
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