Flu News Friday: The Latest in Influenza Vaccines

The Influenzer Initiative
5 min readJul 9, 2021


July 9, 2021

Conference Announcement: The Eighth ESWI Influenza Conference is December 4th to 7th, 2021. Join colleagues and peers from around the world in Salzburg for the largest conference dedicated to influenza, RSV disease and Covid-19. Register here. Abstracts are due September 3, 2021; submit abstracts here.

Colorized transmission electron micrograph of negatively stained SW31 (swine strain) influenza virus particles. Credit: NIAID

1. Influenza virus infection expands the breadth of antibody responses through IL-4 signaling in B cells

Miyauchi et al., Nature Communications / June 18, 2021

Scientists studied influenza virus infection intranasally and its relationship to the induction of broad immune protection. Viral entry and subsequent replication in the respiratory tract promotes a structural change in hemagglutinin (HA) exposing B cells to previously hidden shared epitopes. Together, the exposure of common epitopes of different viral serotypes and the efficient proliferation of B cells in germinal centers is critical for the generation of broadly protective antibodies. The findings provide insight for the development of intranasal vaccines and the mechanisms that generate broad protection from influenza.

2. Women of Science Symposium [Event]

Maria Mitchell Association / September 23–25, 2021

A symposium focusing on gathering attendees to develop real-world solutions for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Participants will connect with colleagues and mentors and devise strategies to keep girls in STEM and support women in STEM at the beginning, middle, and late career stages. Full and partial scholarships are available. Register here.

3. Cluster of Oseltamivir-Resistant and Hemagglutinin Antigenically Drifted Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Viruses, Texas, USA, January 2020

Mohan et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases / July 2020

Four cases of oseltamivir-resistant influenza A infections (pH1N1) were detected among inhabitants of a border detention center in Texas, USA. The viruses belong to an hemagglutinin (HA) antigenically drifted subclade, which may enable viral escape from pre-existing immunity elicited by previous vaccinations and natural infections.

4. Complement Decay-Accelerating Factor is a modulator of influenza A virus lung immunopathology

Santos et al., PLOS Pathogens / July 1, 2021

Researchers identify a molecule influencing influenza disease severity in the lungs, Decay-Accelerating Factor (DAF). DAF is a protein found at the surface of most cells that normally protects healthy cells from attack from the host’s own immune responses, through the complement cascade. However, influenza exploits the function of DAF and exacerbates the activation of complement pathway, leading to severe lung immunopathology. Understanding the role of DAF and the modulation of complement activation may help scientists understand why increased pathogenicity is observed in individuals with zoonotic and pandemic influenza A infections.

5. Influenza immune escape under heterogeneous host immune histories

Oidtman et al., Trends in Microbiology / July 1, 2021

A particular birth cohort shares similar influenza infection histories. For a given cohort, the first strains encountered led to the strongest memory of those strains and may influence subsequent influenza infections, known as immune imprinting. This article reviews the birth-year-specific (cohort) differences in immune imprinting, influenza susceptibility and vaccine effectiveness, and how to approach the study of influenza’s differing antigenic evolution among different cohorts, and in some cohorts, escape immunity.

6. Expansion of SARS-CoV-2 sequencing capacity globally is vital for future control of the COVID-19 pandemic

Sri Lanka Journal of Medicine / July 1, 2021

Scientists review the roles of genomic sequencing to characterize and understand the transmission patterns and mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Notably, many of the systems used to sequence SARS-CoV-2 were drawn from influenza programs. They conclude that in low- and middle-income countries, in addition to addressing inequities in vaccine distribution, scaling up sequencing capacity for active surveillance is important as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and to prepare for future infectious disease threats, such as influenza.

7. Early changes in interferon gene expression and antibody responses following influenza vaccination in pregnant women

Giacomelli Cao et al., Journal of Infectious Diseases / July 1, 2021

Scientists study influenza vaccination in pregnant women and its impact on modulating gene expression for the both arms of the immune system. Influenza vaccines are not approved for infants less than six months of age, heightening the importance of vaccination during pregnancy due to infants’ reliance on maternal antibodies for protection from influenza. This study found that vaccination of individuals during pregnancy elicits enhanced expression of interferon-stimulated genes and plasma cell genes, correlating with antibody responses.

8. Influenza Vaccination of Swine Reduces Public Health Risk at the Swine-Human Interface

Lorbach et al., mSphere / June 30, 2021

Influenza circulation and viral reassortment in pigs poses a public health risk due the possibility of animal to human spillover. In North America, pig exhibitions in agricultural fairs can be a source of such zoonotic transmission. Scientists studied the effect of swine vaccination on the swine-human interface using ferrets and pigs. Ferrets are a commonly used animal model for humans due to similar patterns of influenza attachment in the respiratory tract. It was concluded influenza vaccination of pigs reduces viral shedding in both pigs and humans and pigs should be vaccinated before fairs.

9. The quest for thermostable vaccines and other innovations during Covid-19

Debra Kristensen, STAT / June 23, 2021

STAT reviews the challenges of developing temperature stable and single dose vaccines. Thermostable and low-dose vaccines have the potential to increase vaccine accessibility, particularly in low- and middle-income countries and low resourced areas, not just for the COVID-19 pandemic, but for next-generation influenza vaccines as well.

10. Sanofi and Translate Bio initiate Phase 1 clinical trial of mRNA influenza vaccine

Sanofi / June 22, 2021

Sanofi and Translate Bio have initiated a phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a monovalent mRNA influenza vaccine using liponanoparticle technology. The vaccine codes for the hemagglutinin (HA) surface protein of the H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus. This is the first clinical trial for a seasonal influenza vaccine using the mRNA platform.

11. Funding Opportunities & Information

CIHR-CEPI Leadership Award for Excellence in Vaccine Research for Infectious Diseases of Epidemic Potential

Canada Institutes of Health Research / Due July 9, 2021

Partnering with Regional Institutes to Strengthen Essential Public Health Functions in Vietnam

National Institutes of Health / Due August 13, 2021

The Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences

The Wiley Foundation / Nominations due September 30, 2021

Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Researchers (LRP-CR)

National Institutes of Health / Applications accepted September 1 to November 18, 2021

Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health (LRP-REACH)

National Institutes of Health / Applications accepted September 1 to November 18, 2021

Building a European partnership for pandemic preparedness [Grant]

Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) / Opened June 22, 2021 / Due September 21, 2021

Personalised medicine and infectious diseases: understanding the individual host response to viruses (e.g. SARS-CoV-2) [Grant]

Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) / Opened June 22, 2021 / Due September 21, 2021

Emily Graul, Sabin Vaccine Institute

Visit Influenzer.org to learn more about our journey to accelerate the development of a universal influenza vaccine. @TheInfluenzers



The Influenzer Initiative

Engaging and informing expertise from across research disciplines and industry sectors to drive innovation towards universal influenza vaccine development.