COVID Pandemic May Have Driven a Flu Strain Into Extinction

He famous that B/Yamagata tends to surge in sure years after which nearly disappear in others.

“Simply the proof we have not seen it for some time, I do not assume that by itself is a convincing argument,” Kennedy mentioned. “Information suggesting that since we have not seen a single case since March 2020, that is good, however I would wish to see an extended interval the place we do not see any of it, as a result of it is hidden from us earlier than, these lineages.”

Now, COVID restrictions have relaxed and youngsters are again at school, elevating issues amongst public well being officers that this flu season might be a troublesome one. B/Yamagata might resurface, he mentioned.

“These viruses are superb at making up for misplaced time and misplaced distance on this race,” Kennedy mentioned. “We’d get forward, but when we do not proceed, we will not get a deal with on it.”

If B/Yamagata is really gone for good, which means we might juggle the strains included within the annual flu vaccine to get extra bang for our buck, mentioned Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the Bethesda, Md.-based Nationwide Basis for Infectious Illnesses.

The construction of the present flu vaccine contains 4 strains: influenza A/H3N2 (Hong Kong), influenza A/H1N1 (Swine), influenza B/Victoria, and influenza B/Yamagata. The influenza A strains are usually extra infectious and the supply of lethal epidemics, whereas influenza B percolates extra slowly amongst school-age kids and teenagers.

Annually U.S. scientists play a guessing sport to find out which genetic model of every of the 4 strains is prone to be probably the most infectious, Kennedy mentioned. Once they guess proper, the flu vaccine gives higher safety.

Changing the B/Yamagata a part of the vaccine with one other pressure that is extra infectious and harmful might enhance the shot’s effectiveness, Schaffner mentioned.

“Might you double up on the following most extreme pressure, H3N2? Might you get two H3N2s in there?” Schaffner mentioned.

Kennedy agreed. “With the ability to decide one other pressure that is not B, that is an A pressure, would in all probability assist with that guessing sport,” he mentioned.

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