A single flu vaccine that would protect against all strains of the virus for life may be coming soon, which could make annual flu jabs that cost the NHS around 100m pound per year a history.
Scientists working on the universal flu jab, known as Flu-v, are in the early stages of development but hope to offer a product to the NHS within three to five years.
The company behind the drug, SEEK, will present the results of a small-scale clinical trial at the Influenza Congress in Washington DC on Tuesday.
Results so far have shown that it can significantly reduce infection rates and also cut the severity of symptoms.
Because flu is so changeable, pregnant women, the elderly and other ”at risk” groups are given a new injection every year.
The flu virus regularly mutates its ‘outer coat’, which is what a vaccine usually targets.
But the team behind Flu-v has managed to isolate a thread common to all strains of flu and by targeting that element, rather than the changing ‘outer coat’, the vaccine can cater for all requirements.
That means it would protect against strains of bird flu and swine flu, as well as seasonal variants.
“The trial suggest was only need one shot of vaccine,” the Daily Mail quoted Gregory Stoloff, the chief executive of SEEK as telling The Telegraph.
“Our aim is for the flu vaccine to become more like the mumps and measles – where you only need it once and you get protection for a long time,” he stated.