H7N9 Flu Vaccine Optimism

The threat of a new bird-flu virus that appears to have originated in China, commonly known as H7N9, has been subject to several areas of research. However, to date the results have been varied. Recently, Novavax released a press report about a new vaccine that they have been developing. Here we consider what is currently known about the research regarding the new treatment.

The research, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Vaccine, was an animal study. The mice were split into six groups. One group received one strain of the avian flu, this group was then split into three groups that were treated with the vaccination, given a placebo or treated with a competing vaccination under development. The second group received another strain of the avian flu, and was subjected to similar divisions and treatments as the first group. The key findings indicated that all the animals that had received the vaccination survived, whereas none of the mice that had received placebo or competing treatments survived. Based on this, the researchers concluded that their research was heading in the right direction and that it would be suitable to try developing similar treatments to be tested on humans.

Although the current study was written by renowned researchers and published in a peer-reviewed journal, we were somewhat sceptical about the findings. One thing that raised our suspicion is the fact that the rates are a bit too good to reflect good research practice. On the other hand, the current study is an extension of preceding research by the same time that has received substantial support by the scientific community. Given that this complex field is rather new, we prefer to be cautiously optimistic and to consider the current findings as forward-looking statements rather than facts. As such we feel like we cannot be certain of the findings until more research emerges in this field.

You can read more about H7N9 at this location: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2013_08_11/en/index.html