Flu, better known as “Influenza”, comes across as one of the most common viral infections with regards to the respiratory system. There are three kinds of influenza viruses adversely affecting the humans, namely Type A, Type B, and Type C. There is also a Type D, but it does not get in the way of humans. The symptoms commonly associated with flu include sore throat, coughing, runny nose, pains in the joints, headache, feeling dizzy, and sneezing. At times, vomiting and diarrhea are also observed amongst children.
The US CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states that close to 7 Mn cases of flu were reported all over the US in the year 2019, thereby raising concerns regarding the auxiliary infections like gastric problems as well. Those at a higher risk of flu include geriatric population, children, pregnant women, healthcare personnel, and the immunosuppressed patients.
As far as flu vaccines are concerned, the updated versions keep coming two times in a year due to alterations in influenza virus. Flu vaccine is also known as “flu jab” or “flu shot”. By technology, it spans cell-based and egg-based. By type, it is seasonal and pandemic. By age group, it is adult and pediatric. By route of administration, it says nasal spray and injection.
It has been observed that Covid-19 is showing the symptoms analogous to flu, but with severity a step higher. This ailment has been doing the rounds as a “pandemic” worldwide since Mar 2020. Relentless efforts are being made to combat it. Starting with preventive measures, vaccines are being floored since Dec 2020. The vaccines that have obtained EUA include those from Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinovac, Moderna, Gamaleya Institute, and AstraZeneca, vaccine candidates from Aivita Biomedical, Janssen, and Universitatsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf.
On the Indian front, “Covaxin” from collaborative efforts put across by Bharat Biotech and ICMR has been approved by DCGI. Covishield is another vaccine. It has been developed by Serum Institute.
Also, it needs to be noted that flu vaccine is not effective to prevent Covid-19 in its entirety. Also, children who had been administered three-strain flu vaccine were found to be more susceptible to Covid-19. Nasal drop vaccine candidates are drawing the attention of the healthcare vertical. Collaborations with top virologists are on the anvil in this regard.
By geography, North America dominates, more so as it is subject to seasonal flu at regular intervals. Also, majority of leading players have their presence in the US. Europe and the Asia-Pacific stand second and third respectively. Regarding the Asia-Pacific, it is the ever-increasing emphasis of governments herein on improvising on healthcare facilities.
What do the key players have to say?
Apart from the players mentioned above, Biodiem, CSL Ltd., Emergent BioSolutions, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Gamma Vaccines Pty Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Merck & Co., Inc. (Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.), Novartis AG, Sanofi Pasteur SA, and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Efforts are being made to come up with flu vaccines that would work effectively for both – flu as well as Covid-19.
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