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Covering U.S. efforts to create a universal flu vaccine

This year’s severe flu season has increased the spotlight on the development of a “universal” influenza vaccine – a vaccine that would be effective against most strains of the flu.

But that vaccine has been elusive.

In 2011, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told USA Today that he was “guardedly optimistic” a universal flu vaccine would be within reach in five years after scientists identified pieces of the virus that consistently appeared in seasonal and pandemic flu viruses.

Seven years later, however, scientists aren’t even close to a universal vaccine because the science isn’t there, Stat News’ Helen Branswell reported. It turns out that the pieces of the virus identified as being consistent between strains don’t seem to stimulate the immune system enough to create a vaccine target.

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