Winter flu season could be a thing of the past, as scientists have developed a new universal flu vaccine.
The groundbreaking new vaccine could give protection for up to 88% of known flu strains worldwide in just a single shot.
Dr Derek Gatherer of Lancaster University said: “Every year we have a round of flu vaccination, where we choose a recent strain of flu as the vaccine, hoping that it will protect against next year’s strains. We know this method is safe, and that it works reasonably well most of the time.
These new vaccines are designed to protect against future risk of pandemics, such as the Spanish flu of 1918, and the two subsequent pandemics in 1957 and 1968.
The World Health Organisation estimates that flu still causes up to half a million deaths globally each year.
And statistics published by the Official for National Statistics in April 2016 showed that there were 16,415 more deaths in 2015 than 2014, with the most likely cause of death being flu and dementia.
Although this could be partially explained by a lower vaccine uptake in England in 2015; the elderly (71.0%), in healthcare workers (50.6%), in under 65 year olds in a clinical risk group (45.1%) and in pregnant women (42.3%).
The NHS defines flu – short for influenza - as a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes (although not the same as the common cold).
“It can be very unpleasant, but you’ll usually begin to feel better within about a week,” says the NHS.