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New universal flu jab being trialled

Berkshire patients asked to volunteer

Charlotte Booth

Reporter:

Charlotte Booth

Contact:

01635 886637

Flu jab

APPROXIMATELY 10,000 over 65s registered at six GP practices in Berkshire and Oxfordshire will be asked to take part in the trial of a new, more effective universal flu vaccine.

The world’s first widespread human testing of a flu vaccine, which researchers hope will protect more over 65-year-olds against influenza, has begun in the NHS. 

Professor of vaccinology at the university and co-founder of Vaccitech, Professor Sarah Gilbert, said: “Every year, flu in older adults causes serious illness and sometimes death.

“We want to improve the situation, but in order to do that we need volunteers to help us test a new vaccine.

“If you are invited to take part, please consider doing so.”

Current vaccines are only effective in 30 to 40 per cent of over 65s as the immune system weakens with age and researchers believe the new vaccine could increase this.

For those who receive the jab but still get the flu, researchers believe the new vaccine could also reduce the severity and duration of the illness. 

It is believed the vaccine will offer a stronger protection against flu because it uses a different mechanism to get the body to protect against the virus than the more common flu jab.

Each year scientists have to predict what each new annual strain of flu will look like.

Unfortunately, sometimes, by the time the vaccine has been made, the strain of virus that is causing illness has changed, and the vaccine doesn’t work well.

The new vaccine is different as it uses the core proteins of the virus which remain virtually unchanged in all influenza A viruses, giving researchers the opportunity to create vaccines that will work against all of them.

Humans get infected by both influenza A and B, but it is influenza A that causes the majority of severe illnesses and deaths.

The vaccine was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute with Vaccitech, a spin-out company from the institute.

The study is being sponsored by Vaccitech and managed by the university’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences with support from the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, a Department of Health-funded organisation which provides staffing to ensure research studies are run in the health service.

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