Flu vaccination effectiveness has ranged from 10-60% over the past 20 years. This compares with the 90+% effectiveness of the new COVID-19 vaccines. The reason for this is that national health agencies monitor a few thousand samples globally and then ramp up chicken egg production of flu vaccines six months in advance of the fall vaccination season.
We know all of the strains and variants of the flu virus that exist. We do not have to guess which ones will become the dominant flu in the flu season.
Nextbigfuture has proposed a pandemic monitoring and early warning system that is combined with pre-creating and pre-testing vaccines. This same process can be used for all flu virus variants.
Early Detection Systemn for Flu and Pandemic
A recent research study looked back at 7389 blood donations in December, 2019 and found 1% of the US population already had COVID-19 at that time. This means with 3-4 day doubling times for the spread if we increased the sampling level we could detect pandemics and flu variants at the 0.001% of population levels. Every 8X increase gives the global system 9-12 days earlier detection of a spreading pandemic. We would be able to clearly identify the exact flu variants emerging for this year.
Monitoring to 1 million people every month around the world. Each major region China, America, Europe, Asia and Africa etc… would sample 100,000 blood donations every month and look for potential pandemic viruses and the flu variant. We need to bring the cost of blood sample screening down to less than $100 per sample. This could be done for $1 billion or 2 billion per year.
We would not have to guess which flu variant is emerging.
Prepare Vaccines Against All Flu Variants Ahead of Time
We would spend $20-30 million to prepare vaccines against each specific flu variant and all of the known potential pandemic viruses. We would also constantly monitor nearby animal populations (bats, pigs, chickens etc…) for new emerging strains of flu or potential pandemic.
We get all of the vaccines for flu and pandemics through phase 1 and phase 2 safety trials and through as much of phase 3 effective tests as possible.
A recent paper written by Krammer in the Journal Cell indicates phase I clinical work and the larger, longer Phase II safety trials can be done ahead of time. All before the arrival of new pandemics. Some Phase III efficacy testing could be done before pandemics. We can check if the vaccines provoke the right immune response. We can make antigens in the research center and just test it and it would be inexpensive. A Phase III trial if it were deemed necessary could be done in ten weeks.
No guessing. We would have the monitoring and the data to precisely vaccinate against whatever is the exact virus problem for flu or pandemics. We keep the vaccine effectiveness up over 90% and maybe over 95%.
The global flu season costs about 200,000 to 600,000 lives and $200 billion in medical costs and lost business productivity.
The infectious disease early warning and monitoring and system and full vaccine preparedness would cost about $10 billion per year. Even a 90% effective vaccine is not 100%. Therefore we still maintain wide-scale virus testing capacity and upgrade to Taiwan caliber contact tracing and keep high hygiene levels.
These actions would not harm the world economy. People in Asia that were impacted by SARS maintained a mask-wearing culture from 2005 to 2019 even before COVID. Keeping the mask-wearing culture and keeping hygiene would massively slow the spread and give even more time for early warning to a fully vaccinated population.
Having rules that requiring hourly hand cleaning at airports, rail stations, airplanes, cruise ships, large offices and at mass events would reduce global spread by 80% and massively slow the spread of all new infectious diseases.
This will save global money and lives. Is there a reason we want to keep guessing and remain blind to disease spread?
We collect the blood anyway. We just have to test a small percentage of the volume of blood from each blood donation. We can pre-build the complete arsenal of vaccines against flu and pandemics.
This is the power of being fully pro-active on public health.
SOURCES- CDC, Journal Cell
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.