Flu News Day, 12/8/2022
December 8th’s Flu News Day features updates on the ongoing flu season and ongoing influenza vaccine research, the Influenzer Initiative’s latest release and more. Read here to catch up on the latest in influenza news and funding.
A multivalent nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccine against all known influenza virus subtypes
A study led by researchers from the university of Pennsylvania developed a messenger RNA (mRNA)–lipid nanoparticle vaccine that can protect against all of the 20 known influenza A and B virus subtypes. “There’s a real need for new influenza vaccines to provide protection against pandemic threats that are out there,” said Scott Hensley, who led the study, to the New York times. The researchers took a unique approach that helped generate a multivalent vaccine that would encode all known subtypes, instead of focusing on a limited set of antigens that are shared by many subtypes. The study is currently in its early stage, with experiments having been conducted only in mice and ferrets. However, results from the experiment showed high levels of cross-reactive and subtype-specific antibodies in both mice and ferrets against multiple antigens. You can learn more about the study here.
Nearly all states reporting 'very high' or 'high' levels of flu-like illness: CDC
Data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported at least 25 U.S. states and Washington DC to have had “very high” or “high” rates of influenza activity. This suggests that this year’s flu season has been the strongest since the 2009 swine flu pandemic. CDC’s numbers show 2.8 million and 6.6 million flu illnesses from Oct 1 through Nov 5. There have also been between 1,300 and 3,600 deaths from the flu and between 23,000 and 48,000 hospitalizations from the flu this year alone. States of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia have been classified as having “very high” levels of flu activity. You can read more about CDC’s data and reports here.
Influenza vaccine to reduce adverse vascular events in patients with heart failure: a multinational randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
A study looking into the association between influenza and risk of cardiovascular events and deaths among patients with heart failure found benefits to influenza vaccination during peak influenza circulating season. Vaccination was shown to reduce cases of pneumonia, hospitalizations, and overall cardiovascular events and deaths. The study was a randomized controlled trial conducted across 30 centers over 10 countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Countries included India, Philippines, Nigeria, China, Zambia, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates. You can read more about the study here.
Really just a little prick? A meta-analysis on adverse events in placebo control groups of seasonal influenza vaccination RCTs
A meta-analysis investigating solicited adverse events (or assumed reactogenicity) reported in randomized controlled trials of seasonal influenza vaccination found significantly high responses from placebo groups. This indicates a substantial number of negative expectations of treatment or prognosis, also called a nocebo response, resulting from influenza vaccination. A nocebo response can be any negative or unpleasant change in health condition reported after an inactive treatment had been administered. This study provides important information for healthcare professionals to help develop individualized communication strategies that can avoid a nocebo response after vaccination and reduce vaccine hesitancy. You can read more about the study here.
The Flu Vaccine Forum
On December 7th, the Influenzer Initiative launched the Flu Vaccine Forum, a podcast and webinar series, in partnership with CIDRAP’s Influenza Vaccine R&D Roadmap (IVR) Initiative and the Global Flu Funders Consortium. The forum brings together global funders, scientific experts, and key public policy, regulatory, and public health stakeholders from across the globe to explore current efforts to reimagine and transform vaccine research, pandemic preparedness and prevention initiatives in the context of advancing next-generation, universally protective influenza vaccines (UIV) and key issues and highlights from the IVR.
In the first episode, experts Rosalind Hollingsworth, Eric Karikari-Boateng, Chris Chadwick, William Ampofo and Tiago Rocca speak live from the Influenzer Initiative’s special event at the Titanic Museum in September 2022. Discussing vaccine equity, sustainable investment in influenza vaccine production in lower- and middle-income countries, the potential for future mRNA vaccines and more, the panel speaks to the need for partnerships and collaboration.