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Concept: Influenza vaccine


In the United States, annual vaccination against seasonal influenza is recommended for all persons aged ≥6 months (1). During each influenza season since 2004-05, CDC has estimated the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine to prevent laboratory-confirmed influenza associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness (ARI). This report uses data from 4,562 children and adults enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network (U.S. Flu VE Network) during November 2, 2017-February 3, 2018. During this period, overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness (VE) against influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically attended ARI was 36% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 27%-44%). Most (69%) influenza infections were caused by A(H3N2) viruses. VE was estimated to be 25% (CI = 13% to 36%) against illness caused by influenza A(H3N2) virus, 67% (CI = 54%-76%) against A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses, and 42% (CI = 25%-56%) against influenza B viruses. These early VE estimates underscore the need for ongoing influenza prevention and treatment measures. CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination because the vaccine can still prevent some infections with currently circulating influenza viruses, which are expected to continue circulating for several weeks. Even with current vaccine effectiveness estimates, vaccination will still prevent influenza illness, including thousands of hospitalizations and deaths. Persons aged ≥6 months who have not yet been vaccinated this season should be vaccinated.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Virus, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza, Influenza pandemic, Influenza vaccine


Concerns have been raised over competing interests (CoI) among academics during the 2009 to 2010 A/H1N1 pandemic. Media reporting can influence public anxiety and demand for pharmaceutical products. We assessed CoI of academics providing media commentary during the early stages of the pandemic.

Concepts: Influenza, Swine influenza, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine, 2009 flu pandemic, Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, Pandemic H1N1/09 virus, H1N1


Polypeptide vaccines effectively activate human T cells but suffer from poor biological stability, which confines both transport logistics and in vivo therapeutic activity. Synthetic biology has the potential to address these limitations through the generation of highly stable antigenic “mimics” using subunits that do not exist in the natural world. We developed a platform based on D-amino acid combinatorial chemistry and used this platform to reverse engineer a fully artificial CD8+ T cell agonist that mirrored the immunogenicity profile of a native epitope blueprint from influenza virus. This nonnatural peptide was highly stable in human serum and gastric acid, reflecting an intrinsic resistance to physical and enzymatic degradation. In vitro, the synthetic agonist stimulated and expanded an archetypal repertoire of polyfunctional human influenza virus-specific CD8+ T cells. In vivo, specific responses were elicited in naive humanized mice by subcutaneous vaccination, conferring protection from subsequent lethal influenza challenge. Moreover, the synthetic agonist was immunogenic after oral administration. This proof-of-concept study highlights the power of synthetic biology to expand the horizons of vaccine design and therapeutic delivery.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Amino acid, Vaccine, Vaccination, Immunology, Influenza, Influenza vaccine


To the Editor: Avian-origin influenza A (H7N9) viruses emerged as human pathogens in China in 2013 and have caused 137 cases and 45 deaths to date.(1) These viruses have acquired mutations that could facilitate infection in mammals,(2) which could pose a pandemic threat if the viruses become readily transmissible in humans. Vaccines are a key defense against pandemics, but candidate vaccines featuring H7 hemagglutinins (HA) have been poorly immunogenic.(3) We have previously described the development, manufacture, and efficacy in mice of an A/Anhui/1/13 (H7N9) viruslike particle (VLP) vaccine produced in insect cells with the use of recombinant baculovirus. This vaccine . . .

Concepts: Immune system, Microbiology, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza, Influenza pandemic, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine


School-located influenza vaccination (SLIV) programs can substantially enhance the sub-optimal coverage achieved under existing delivery strategies. Randomized SLIV trials have shown these programs reduce laboratory-confirmed influenza among both vaccinated and unvaccinated children. This work explores the effectiveness of a SLIV program in reducing the community risk of influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) associated emergency care visits.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Virus, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza, Program, Influenza vaccine, Influenza-like illness



Parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5), formerly known as simian virus 5 (SV5), is a paramyxovirus often referred to as canine parainfluenza virus (CPI) in the veterinary field. PIV5 is thought to be a contributing factor to kennel cough. Kennel cough vaccines containing live PIV5 have been used in dogs for many decades. PIV5 is not known to cause any diseases in humans or other animals. PIV5 has been used as a vector for vaccine development for humans and animals. One critical question concerning the use of PIV5 as a vector is whether prior exposure to PIV5 would prevent the use of PIV5-based vaccines. In this work, we have examined immunogenicity of a recombinant PIV5 expressing hemagglutinin (HA) of influenza A virus subtype 3 (rPIV5-H3) in dogs that were immunized against PIV5. We found that vaccination of the dogs containing neutralizing antibodies against PIV5 with rPIV5-H3 generated immunity against influenza A virus, indicting that PIV5-based vaccine is immunogenic in dogs with prior exposure. Furthermore, we have examined exposure of PIV5 in human populations. We have detected neutralizing antibody (nAb) against PIV5 in 13 out of 45 human serum samples (about 29 percent). The nAb titers in humans were lower than that in vaccinated dogs, suggesting that nAb in humans is unlikely to prevent PIV5 from being an efficacious vector in humans.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Microbiology, Vaccine, Vaccination, Immunology, Influenza, Influenza vaccine


During March 2013-February 24, 2017, annual epidemics of avian influenza A(H7N9) in China resulted in 1,258 avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infections in humans being reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and other regional sources (1). During the first four epidemics, 88% of patients developed pneumonia, 68% were admitted to an intensive care unit, and 41% died (2). Candidate vaccine viruses (CVVs) were developed, and vaccine was manufactured based on representative viruses detected after the emergence of A(H7N9) virus in humans in 2013. During the ongoing fifth epidemic (beginning October 1, 2016),* 460 human infections with A(H7N9) virus have been reported, including 453 in mainland China, six associated with travel to mainland China from Hong Kong (four cases), Macao (one) and Taiwan (one), and one in an asymptomatic poultry worker in Macao (1). Although the clinical characteristics and risk factors for human infections do not appear to have changed (2,3), the reported human infections during the fifth epidemic represent a significant increase compared with the first four epidemics, which resulted in 135 (first epidemic), 320 (second), 226 (third), and 119 (fourth epidemic) human infections (2). Most human infections continue to result in severe respiratory illness and have been associated with poultry exposure. Although some limited human-to-human spread continues to be identified, no sustained human-to-human A(H7N9) transmission has been observed (2,3).

Concepts: Virus, Influenza, Avian influenza, People's Republic of China, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine, World Health Organization, Hong Kong


Assessing the mortality impact of the 2009 influenza A H1N1 virus (H1N1pdm09) is essential for optimizing public health responses to future pandemics. The World Health Organization reported 18,631 laboratory-confirmed pandemic deaths, but the total pandemic mortality burden was substantially higher. We estimated the 2009 pandemic mortality burden through statistical modeling of mortality data from multiple countries.

Concepts: Influenza, Swine influenza, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine, World Health Organization, 2009 flu pandemic, Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, Pandemic H1N1/09 virus


Gene set analysis methods, which consider predefined groups of genes in the analysis of genomic data, have been successfully applied for analyzing gene expression data in cross-sectional studies. The time-course gene set analysis (TcGSA) introduced here is an extension of gene set analysis to longitudinal data. The proposed method relies on random effects modeling with maximum likelihood estimates. It allows to use all available repeated measurements while dealing with unbalanced data due to missing at random (MAR) measurements. TcGSA is a hypothesis driven method that identifies a priori defined gene sets with significant expression variations over time, taking into account the potential heterogeneity of expression within gene sets. When biological conditions are compared, the method indicates if the time patterns of gene sets significantly differ according to these conditions. The interest of the method is illustrated by its application to two real life datasets: an HIV therapeutic vaccine trial (DALIA-1 trial), and data from a recent study on influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. In the DALIA-1 trial TcGSA revealed a significant change in gene expression over time within 69 gene sets during vaccination, while a standard univariate individual gene analysis corrected for multiple testing as well as a standard a Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) for time series both failed to detect any significant pattern change over time. When applied to the second illustrative data set, TcGSA allowed the identification of 4 gene sets finally found to be linked with the influenza vaccine too although they were found to be associated to the pneumococcal vaccine only in previous analyses. In our simulation study TcGSA exhibits good statistical properties, and an increased power compared to other approaches for analyzing time-course expression patterns of gene sets. The method is made available for the community through an R package.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gene, Longitudinal study, Statistics, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza vaccine, Analysis