How the flu season turned deadly – are NHS vaccine failures to blame? : New Statesman

Influenza comes around every year. So why is this year’s flu season proving much worse than expected, with millions infected and at least 120 people already dead?

The disease is caused by influenza viruses of which four groups exist (types A,B, C and D). The first three infect people, and the first two may cause serious disease. This year, there have been significant numbers of both A and B type infections. The A type has acquired the name Aussie flu because it first started infecting large numbers of people Down Under in June 2017. The current B-type is commonly referred to as Japanese flu, or Yamagata type, based on its initial identification in the 1990s. The reality is that Aussie flu is unlikely to have originated in Australia and Japanese flu has been in circulation around the world for decades.

Different flu viruses are distinguished from each other in several ways. Each virus contains eight strands of ribonucleic acid, their genome, which encode the proteins they need to replicate and spread within their hosts. Two of these proteins, the so-called H and N proteins, sit at the surface of the virus and allow invasion of host cells where they replicate. As they sit at the virus surface they are vulnerable to attack by our immune system.

But if our immune system has never previously seen particular


Source: How the flu season turned deadly – are NHS vaccine failures to blame? : New Statesman

One thought on “How the flu season turned deadly – are NHS vaccine failures to blame? : New Statesman

  1. In addition to the factors mentioned in the article could the take up rate of the vaccine have any bearing on the extent of the flu infections and their severity.

    The more the take up, could this minimise the infection rate, as with the MMR vaccine the incidence of the individual conditions are rising (

    I believe this year the child nasal spray was offered free to adults with learning disabilities who have an aversion to needles. Also offered free to paid care workers, where previously the costs had to be borne by their employers, The NHS have for years offered the free vaccine to their own staff, but the take up rate is low (

    Would it not be more cost effective to offer the free vaccine to all persons in the UK?


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