Is it worth getting a flu vaccine? Scientists have predicted that the current vaccine is only 20% effective

A Rice University study predicts that the upcoming 2018/2019 flu vaccine will only be effective in 20% of cases.

This means that 20% fewer vaccinated people will get the flu compared to the unvaccinated people.

The Rice method, known as pEpitope, was invented more than 10 years ago as a fast, inexpensive way of gauging the effectiveness of proposed flu vaccine formulations.

“Our study found that these same mutations halved the efficacy of flu vaccines in the past two seasons, and we expect they will lower the efficacy of the next vaccine in a similar manner.” – Prof  Michael Deem

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Efficacy of flu vaccines has halved

“The vaccine has been changed for 2018-19, but unfortunately it still contains two critical mutations that arise from the egg-based vaccine production process,” says Michael Deem, Rice’s John W. Cox Professor in Biochemical and Genetic Engineering and professor of physics and astronomy.

“Our study found that these same mutations halved the efficacy of flu vaccines in the past two seasons, and we expect they will lower the efficacy of the next vaccine in a similar manner.”

Related: In the right mood for a flu jab

The efficiency of 2017-2018 flu vaccine: 19%

Full efficacy data for the 2017-2018 flu seasons are still being compiled, but pEpitope has predicted it will be around 19 percent against H3N2, the type of influenza A that infected most people in the U.S. in each of the past two years.

The Food and Drug Administration chose the same vaccine formulation in 2017 and 2016, in part because the dominant circulating strain stayed the same.

In 2016, the vaccine had an efficacy of 20 percent, almost identical to the efficacy of 19 percent predicted by pEpitope.

Source: Rice University via www.sciencedaily.com

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