Flu vaccine fears as experts reveal virus has mutated amid horror season

Experts have warned of a mutation with one strain of the flu that could put more people of risk of catching the virus. Source: Getty

Fears have grown for Australians as the country suffers through one of the worst flu seasons on record as experts claim the vaccine could prove ineffective due to virus mutation.

So far this year over 200 deaths from the flu have been recorded in Australia with thousands more at risk of serious illness.

And now those worries have escalated even more with the World Health Organisation warning the virus is changing, meaning the current vaccine may not be completely reliable.

“We don’t know how much those molecular changes will affect how the vaccine protects,” she told the publication.

“The H3N2 virus is the one we worry about because it affects the very young and the elderly. As soon as we see H3N2 we know there will be more problems in the elderly.”

However, although alarming Subbarao explained the vaccine could reduce the severity of the H3N2 strain and will protect against the other three strains.

She also advised people take further measures to prevent the spread of the flu among the community such as staying home if sick and thoroughly washing their hands.

The news follows reports earlier this week of the creation of a new vaccine in Australia, promised to be more effective than the current flu shot.

The groundbreaking creation, which has been labelled the first human vaccine to be designed completely on a computer through artificial intelligence (AI), is aimed to provide better protection against the deadly influenza virus and is set to be tested in human trials across the United States. 

The newly created vaccine, which was designed at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia is said to enhance the ability to protect humans with hopes to lower the death rate from the viral infection in coming years.

University Professor and Research Director Dr Nikolai Petrovsky developed the technology behind the vaccine using adjuvants – substances which act as a turbocharger to enhance their ability to protect against infection.

The technology behind the improved flu shot is believed to be the first human drug in the world to be completely designed using AI. Although computers have been used in the past to help in drug design, this vaccine technology was independently designed by an AI program called SAM (Search Algorithm for Ligands), created by the Flinders-based team.

“This represents the start of a new era where artificial intelligence is going to play an increasingly dominant role in drug discovery and design,” Petrovsky explained.

“It is tremendous to see such a promising vaccine that we developed with the very first human trials being done at Flinders, progressing onto the world stage.”

Have you contracted the flu this year? Have you had the flu vaccine? Do you think it’s effective?

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