Flu vaccines have been marketed for a long time to combat annual influenza, although their efficiency might range from 40 to 70%. Winters is approaching the northern hemispheres, and alongside it, flu season; however, progress made in the battle over COVID-19 is fueling expectations for a better dependable vaccination.
According to a team of experts, Coronavirus and flu viruses have many similarities that affect the human body. However, the style of infection and severity in both diseases differ to a large extent; there are probabilities that the vaccine for Covid may help recover from flu also. Hence experts focus on developing a vaccine that can help one stay protected against both health risks at a time.
Can COVID Vaccine Technology Aid In The Development Of A Better Flu Vaccine?
However, drugs companies and labs were scrambling to adapt what they’ve discovered from RNA vaccinations to the flu, spurred not just by the promise for highly efficient, life-saving vaccinations but simply by the huge revenues at stake.
To stimulate resistance, they injected an inactivated viral strain into people. That immobilized viruses should be produced ahead of time, which could present issues if the strains aren’t compatible.
Pfizer, a US pharmaceutical company, started infusing flu vaccines into patients this month, using messenger RNA (or mRNA), something it currently utilizes from its coronavirus vaccination. RNA, or ribosomal RNA, is a relative of DNA, or deoxyribose, which is the genetic organizing component.
Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company, has begun testing on the “monovalent” RNA vaccination, which targets a specific viral variant but would start tests on a “quadrivalent” immunization next year. Moderna, a US biotechnology startup that develops a COVID vaccine based on mRNA, began flu vaccination studies in July.
Six months preceding flu seasons, infectious disease specialist Claude-Agnes Reynaud explained, “we assess which strains are circulating the most.”
“Sometimes we get it wrong, and this creates a significant excess of mortality,” said the director of research at France’s INSERM health and scientific study agency.
“The problem with inactivating a virus to prepare a vaccine is that it can damage certain surface proteins,” she explained, noting that it is these polypeptides that activate the immunological system reaction.
The World Health Organization informs vaccination manufacturers on which flu viruses to monitor. Rather than transporting those viruses molecules inside the brain, lab-generated mRNA instructs human lymphocytes to produce them, allowing the immune response to identify and combat potential infections.
“And if it warns of a change in the prevalent strains, we will be able to change much faster with RNA,” said Jean-Jacques Le Fur, an analyst at Bryan, Garnier & Co.
The vaccinations’ efficacy might be boosted by up to 95 percent based on this, according to the study.
Norbert Pardi, a vaccine expert, has employed mRNA to create a vaccine that contains many antigens. As a result, the race to create RNA-based flu vaccines is on.
Immunol systems make antibodies in response to antigens, so Pardi expects that his strategy, which has previously been tried on animals, would “induce protection from different, distinct flu strains.”
“Such multivalent vaccines will likely induce broadly protective immune responses superior to currently used flu vaccines,” he told AFP.
Nevertheless, the technique comes with its own set of issues, like the requirement for storage at extremely low temps, as opposed to existing flu shots, which could be stored in standard freezers.
The idea of developing an mRNA vaccination to combat influenza is enticing to drug manufacturers, according to Jamila El Bougrini, the biotech expert at financial markets researcher Investment Equities.
Flu vaccine revenues reached $5 billion in 2020 & could exceed $7 billion this year.
It is “a very attractive market for the big laboratories,” Bougrini said.