Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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A universal vaccine for the influenza virus

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-21, 12:57 authored by Stephanie Gagnon

In 1918, a deadly influenza virus strain emerged, claiming approximately 50-100 million lives. The 1918 pandemic stands as the single most lethal event in human history, and the influenza virus still accounts for a significant burden of disease among the human population today. Current vaccination strategies against the influenza virus, which rely on the pre-seasonal surveillance of circulating influenza strains and egg-based manufacturing techniques, have been deemed largely ineffective, with a mere efficacy of 10-60% according to the Centers for Disease Control. To address the shortcomings of current influenza vaccination strategies, a universal vaccine has been proposed. A universal vaccine confers protection against all seasonal and pandemic influenza strains, with long-lasting immunity, by targeting conserved external and/or internal components of the influenza virus. In addition to targeting conserved epitopes, developing alternatives to egg-based manufacturing techniques that increase the lability of viral components has been envisioned as a feature of universal vaccine development. Multiple conserved epitopes have been examined as potential universal vaccine targets, and new techniques have been created. The challenge for current universal vaccine development has been in establishing stable targets that are sufficiently immunogenic. Consequently, the search for a universal influenza vaccine has not been concluded. However, BiondVax Pharmaceuticals has produced a promising candidate, the Multimeric-001 (M-001). Ultimately, the completion of BiondVax’s multi-centre, phase 3 clinical trial in December 2020 will provide more clarity as to whether or not the scientific community is drawing nearer to generating the world’s first universal influenza vaccine. 



The original article is available at Part of the RCSIsmj collection:

Published Citation

Gagnon S. A universal vaccine for the influenza virus. RCSIsmj. 2021;14(1):44-49

Publication Date



  • Undergraduate Research


RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences


  • Published Version (Version of Record)