Mainstream media reports are already rife with dire predictions for the upcoming flu season, but experts say it’s really too early to tell how severe it will be.
The severity of the flu season in the Northern Hemisphere typically mirrors that of the Southern Hemisphere. Australia’s flu season just ended and—while not as deadly as in 2017—had more documented cases of flu this season than ever before prompting concerns about the season to come in the north. There were also concerns raised about the efficacy of the vaccine used this year in the Southern Hemisphere.
Influenza expert Scott E. Hensley, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania co-authored a paper in August suggesting that the egg-adapted H3N2 component of the influenza vaccine used in the Southern Hemisphere was mismatched. The study notes that the vaccine elicited an antibody response in ferrets that was focused on the antigenic site A of hemagglutinin, which would cause a problem with H3N2 viruses that have the antigenic site A substitutions. Still, Hensley says it’s too soon to predict what the flu season will be like in the Northern Hemisphere just yet, or how effective the vaccine will be.
“There is a good chance that the vaccine will be very effective. There is a lot of H3N2 diversity around the world right and it is unclear which of these viruses—if any—will circulate in the Northern Hemisphere this year,” said Scott E. Hensley, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania. “It may end up being an H1N1 year, and the H1N1 component of the vaccine is very well matched to most circulating H1N1 strains.” Read more about the 2019 Flu Season on the Medical Economics website at: https://www.medicaleconomics.com/news/flu-season-2019-how-bad-will-it-be