Expect a universal flu vaccine within 5 years. That's according to NIH chief Francis Collins, who told USA Today that a long-term jab could replace the annual seasonal flu innoculations in that timeframe.
The achievement "seemed completely out of reach only a few years ago," Collins said to USA Today. But research has found consistencies in the viral coat that could help target all strains. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci noted last December that a portion of the hemagglutinin flu virus stem is relatively unchanged in many flu strains.
But some researchers believe more time will be needed to achieve the feat. "[It's] not a question of whether, but when," University of Michigan's Arnold Monto said to USA Today. "I think 5 years is a bit ambitious, given where we are now." Just last month, BiondVax announced it had completed the first Phase II universal flu vaccine trial in the world, with promising immunogenic results.