Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative

Work

Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative

The Challenge

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic that infected a third of the world’s population and killed between 50 and 100 million people. Put in perspective, the pandemic killed more people in 12 months than HIV/AIDS has in the last 50 years.

Today influenza still looms as one of our greatest global threats. Annually, seasonal influenza kills an estimated 250,000 – 500,000 people worldwide, and in our increasingly interconnected world a new pandemic – and the associated potential for widespread social, economic and political upheaval – is more and more likely.

While great progress has been made in understanding the influenza virus, there has been little progress in understanding how the human immune system prevents and controls influenza. As a result, our current vaccines are only moderately effective in blunting seasonal flu or protecting vulnerable populations such as the very young or old, and offer limited protection against a rapidly emerging global pandemic.

A universal influenza vaccine capable of protecting all people against all strains of influenza offers the greatest hope for preventing this looming global catastrophe.

The Program

To address this critical gap, the Human Vaccines Project has launched the Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative (UIVI) together with leading academic, corporate, nonprofit and government partners.

Beginning in 2018, the UIVI will undertake the most comprehensive clinical analysis of immune responses to flu yet conducted to understand how to generate long-term immunity across influenza strains in globally diverse populations. The initiative brings together leading biomedical and bioinformatics researchers with the goal of greatly accelerating the development of a universal influenza vaccine.

The Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative is directed by Drs. James Crowe Jr. and C. Buddy Creech from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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