Swine Flu survivors have boosted immunity, might lead to new Flu vaccine
Researchers have discovered that a person infected by Swine Flu develops plenty of antibodies that are not needed to fight off the Swine Flu (H1N1) infection itself. However, these antibodies will be able to fend against a vast variety of common influenzas.
The Swine Flu (H1N1) strain of influenza left a scar on the world when it struck two years ago. Many people, especially in Southeast Asia suffered from the pandemic. Though the spread of the infection was large, it is reported that only an estimated 18,000 died, out of the 6 million that were infected.
Researchers have discovered that a person’s body develops a vast variety of influenza antibodies in response to the H1N1 virus. Though none of the antibodies produced actually fend against the H1N1 Flu strain, said antibodies are large amount in variety to fight off just about any other flu.
According to researchers, five types of the antibodies released are able to fight off the common seasonal influenza strains, as well as the Spanish Flu virus that killed as many as 50 million during the 1918 pandemic. The antibodies are also potent enough to fight off the potentially deadly H5N1 Bird Flu strain.
Researchers also say that the uniqueness of the Swine Flu strain is the main factor that triggers this response. The foreign Swine Flu strain makes the body create plenty of different antibodies (based on memory of previous flu encounters) in response, as it is unsure about the nature of the new flu strain.
Though progress made is promising, Oxford University’s virus expert Dr. Sarah Gilbert says that a vaccine based on the H1N1 flu strain may take as long as up to five years to be widely available. Now, five years may seem like a long time, but considering that half a million people die yearly from the common flu, the vaccine is definitely worth the wait.