The yearly flu jab could be a thing of the past, as doctors have developed a universal flu vaccine that could protect Australians for up to 10 years.
Speaking on 60 Minutes last night, Dr Antony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, said that he’s confident a universal flu vaccine with a much higher rate of efficacy will soon be available across the country.
“It’s a game-changer as far as I’m concerned,” Dr Fauci told Karl Stefanovic.
“Influenza can be prevented to a certain extent by vaccines, it isn’t a perfect vaccine – at best it’s 60 percent effective.
“But if we get an 80 to 90 per cent effective influenza vaccine, that’s a game-changer.”
According to Dr Fauci, the new universal vaccine is expected to protect against illness for up to 10 years.
“What we’re trying to do with the universal flu vaccine is to get away from the necessity of changing it each year,” he said.
“If we can get to the point where we get one that is very broad in its protection that would be a very good goal to achieve.”
Last winter was one of Australia’s worse when it comes to the flu. More than 71,000 became infected, with Queensland and New South Wales being hit hardest by the flu. Victoria and South Australia were also impacted, with seven elderly people in a Victorian aged care facility dying as a result of their symptoms. It took other Australians longer than normal to overcome their symptoms.
He said had better vaccination technologies been available it could have been prevented.
Currently, the flu vaccine is created in a process which is close to a guessing game. Scientists predict the upcoming season’s strain and make a vaccine accordingly, growing the virus in eggs.
While the current flu vaccine is still not perfect, Dr Fauci says that this should not stop Australians from having their yearly shot.
“Even when [vaccines] don’t prevent infection, they’ll prevent you from going onto a serious complication. The recommendation in the United States is that anyone six months or age or older should be vaccinated.”
“If we vaccinated more people, we would save more lives,” he added.