The NIH may be one step closer to the holy grail of vaccines: the universal flu shot. Using the mRNA technology made famous in Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the federal agency has begun enrolling volunteers in an early-stage trial.
The NIH announced that it is looking for 50 volunteers between the ages of 18 to 49 for the Phase 1 trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
CNBC reports, “A universal flu vaccine could serve as an important line of defense against the spread of a future flu pandemic,” Dr. Hugh Auchincloss, acting director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement Monday.
The universal flu vaccine trial will enroll up to 50 healthy people ages 18 through 49 to test whether the experimental shot is safe and produces an immune response, according to NIH.
The study will also include participants who receive a quadrivalent flu vaccine, which protects against four strains of the virus, to compare the experimental universal shot to those currently on the market.
The universal shot was developed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The clinical trial is enrolling volunteers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
A universal flu vaccine would be a game-changer for public health because it would likely eliminate the need for at-risk patients to get an annual shot, saving time and money for the health system.
“This early-stage trial will evaluate the best dosage for the experimental vaccine while comparing its immunogenicity and safety to current seasonal flu vaccines. Participants in the trial will be followed for up to one year after vaccination to primarily track its safety, but efficacy as well,” noted CNN.
“Between 2010 and 2020, there have been between 140,000 to 710,000 people hospitalized and between 12,000 to 52,000 deaths from the flu annually, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
There has long been a race to be the first to develop the universal flu vaccine. Currently, there are several in various stages of development and testing.