The effectiveness of the flu vaccine today varies from 40 to 60% depending on the year and age group. So there is room for improvement. Remember that the flu vaccine is made from inactivated strains of the virus, so it is the weakened form of the virus that teaches the body to defend itself.
A first innovation is already visible this year: a new high-dose vaccine, manufactured by Sanofi, will be offered to people over the age of 65. The amount of active ingredient in this vaccine has been quadrupled, providing a 25% increase in protection. It is useful for older people, as their immune system needs to be further boosted.
We also hear more and more about the messenger RNA vaccine against influenza. This would improve vaccine efficacy and be conducive to the emergence of new strains of influenza virus. It should only appear within two or three years – at best – estimates virologist Professor Bruno Lena at the CHU de Lyon, as introducing four different messenger RNAs into the mix to fight at least four families of viruses. will still be required. which coexists in winter. So it’s still a bit more technical than a vaccine against the coronavirus. Furthermore, we must keep in mind that developing a vaccine in just one year, as we did during the health crisis, is still pretty extraordinary.
As for the combined influenza and COVID vaccines, why not? But here are the uncertainties again: It is not known whether combining a messenger RNA vaccine against Covid-19 and a classic inactivated virus vaccine against the flu in the same syringe is effective. Will we really need a booster against covid every year like the flu? Would there really be interest in commercializing a combined vaccine? It’s a little too early to tell.
The universal flu vaccine is clearly what doctors dream of. Because today the influenza vaccine is actually required to be updated every year, according to the major strains circulating. Therefore the ideal would be to use a fragment of the virus common to all strains to provoke an immune response that would protect it for many years. It is possible on paper, but it is technically complicated. For now, despite ten years of research, a universal influenza vaccine is still a fantasy.
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