Flu Vaccines Lose to B/Victoria

Mina Cowles, Reporter

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 4,800 total deaths have occurred in this year’s flu season after the annual flu vaccine was not able to fight the common strain of flu that has been affecting the population, B/Victoria.

The vaccine that was created for this year had a 42 percent chance of not being well-matched for this common strain of flu. However, it is well matches for the strain called H1N1.

“It’s not a very good match for B/Victoria,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said to CNN, “It’s not an awful match, but it’s not a very good match.”

Before the flu season starts, scientists try to match the strains to a vaccine in order to reduce the chances of an intense flu season. Some years the vaccine is more effective; better than other years. This year, however, the vaccine has been proven ineffective with 39 people under 18 having died as a result of the flu. This includes 16-year-old Kaylee Roberts who got the B/Victoria strain of influenza and died within two weeks of being in contact with the virus.

“Young, healthy people have a robust immune system, and in mounting a response to an infection, sometimes they simply can’t put the brakes on it,” Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said to CNN. “We want their immune system to fight the infection, but when it happens in an uncontrolled or uncoordinated fashion, sometimes we can see a devastating response.”

This problem brings a different question into the conversation. One of how more deaths can be avoided in the future. Dr. Fauci has been trying to push a new universal flu vaccine that would protect everyone from all of the common strains of the flu. The first trial occurred in June 2019 and is continually being researched.