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What COVID-19 revealed about preventing pandemic influenza

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Flu News Friday 5/28/21

Read the latest on influenza vaccines in this week’s roundup.

Image: An influenza virus (orthomyxovirus) seen through an electronic microscope. Credit: Sanofi Pasteur

The Latest in Influenza Vaccines

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1. 2021 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Ceremony [Upcoming Virtual Event]
The Sabin Vaccine Institute / June 3, 2021 at 3pm ET

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is proud to award Dr. Barney Graham the 2021 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal for his contributions to the field of vaccinology over the last three decades and to recognize Dr. Nginache Nampota-Nkomba as the Rising Star Awardee, a young leader in infectious disease research in Malawi. Join Sabin on June 3 in recognizing two extraordinary leaders bringing lifesaving vaccines to those who need them. Register here.

2. Targeting Antigens for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development
Nguyen & Choi et al., Viruses / May 24, 2021

A review of current strategies and perspectives regarding the use of antigens, including hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, matrix proteins and internal proteins, for the development of universal influenza vaccines. This article weighs the advantages and limitations for a new generation of broadly-protective immune responses against divergent influenza viruses.

3. CEPI funds Phase 3 trial of UW Medicine COVID-19 vaccine
University of Washington School of Medicine / May 24, 2021

SK bioscience, and the UW Medicine Institute for Protein Design have co- developed a SARS-CoV-2 nanoparticle vaccine. The vaccine received significant additional funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to enable multi-national Phase III clinical trials, support additional R&D on emerging coronavirus variants of concern, and support further scale-up of SK bioscience manufacturing to full commercial scale. If proven safe and effective, doses of the candidate will be made available to the COVAX Facility for procurement and equitable allocation worldwide. The UW Institute for Protein Design is also working on a broadly protective, universal influenza vaccine.

4. Influenza Virus and SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines
Sandor et al., The Journal of Immunology / May 21, 2021

Researchers review existing strategies for influenza vaccines and how these strategies have informed SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and conversely, how SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development could inform the development of pandemic and next-generation influenza vaccines. The authors recommend e that the manufacturing infrastructure established during COVID-19 for newly licensed vaccine platforms, should be adapted for influenza vaccines to support large-scale manufacturing and pandemic preparedness.

5. Influence of adjuvants on the amount, specificity and functional activity of antibody response to human influenza vaccine in mice
Voutssas-Lara et al., Molecular Immunology / May 20, 2021

Scientists compared and tested the effect of different adjuvants on an inactivated Influenza vaccine (IIV), compared to an IIV without an adjuvant, in a mouse model. Different adjuvants can produce different humoral immune responses and modify the effectiveness of the vaccine. The findings suggest different adjuvants influence differential levels of IgM and IgG antibody subclasses and adjuvants comparatively elicit a more diverse antibody repertoire recognizing the hemagglutinin (HA) head domain.

6. Systems Immunology: Revealing Influenza Immunological Imprint
Tomic et al., Viruses / May 20, 2021

This article explores recent approaches and technological developments in systems immunology to help reveal key parameters and factors that correlate with protective immunity to influenza. This includes the examination of the roles and interrelationships of clinical, environmental, biological and genetic factors in the control of influenza. These new developments in systems immunology have the potential to lead to novel discoveries about influenza immunity, essential for the development of more effective vaccines to prevent future pandemics.

7. Asymptomatic transmission and high community burden of seasonal influenza in an urban and a rural community in South Africa, 2017–18 (PHIRST): a population cohort study
Cohen et al., The Lancet Global Health / May 18, 2021

A prospective cohort study evaluates the community burden and transmission of influenza for two influenza seasons in a rural and an urban setting in South Africa. Unique to this study was the focus on the role of asymptomatic individuals in the transmission of influenza, found to be almost half of all documented cases. Children have the highest burden. Both asymptomatic individuals and children are important drivers of transmission.

8. Barriers and activities to implementing or expanding influenza vaccination programs in low- and middle-income countries: A global survey
Kraigsley et al., Vaccine / May 12, 2021

Survey research explores barriers and activities to initiating, expanding, or maintaining national influenza vaccination programs for seasonal influenza vaccines. The yearly challenges with seasonal influenza vaccines make the development of a broadly protective, universal influenza vaccine desirable.

9. Improved storage of influenza HA-VLPs using a trehalose-glycerol natural deep eutectic solvent system
Correia et al., Vaccine / May 7, 2021

This study examines a new storage solvent for influenza hemagglutinin (HA)-displaying virus-like particles (VLPs), using a natural deep eutectic system (NADES). The intent is for it to enhance stability of the VLPs for the vaccine cold-chain trans. The findings reveal promising protective capacity under non-refrigerated conditions and short-term thermal stress, compared to the traditional water-based storage solvent.