Jan 13, 2020

A surprising flu strain is responsible for most pediatric deaths this season

Influenza vaccination utensils. Photo: Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images

A surprisingly early strain of the influenza B virus is responsible for 21 of the 32 pediatric deaths in this flu season, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between the lines: Influenza B hasn't been a main cause for sickness in the U.S. for 27 years. It isn't as much of a risk to senior citizens, but tends to cause more complications in young children.

  • This season's vaccine includes influenza B but the variations in that strain may not be a great match, a common challenge researchers have with the flu vaccine each year.
  • Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios it's too early to determine how effective the flu shot is this year, but officials emphasize the importance of partial protection.

Go deeper: The pandemic potential

Editor's note: This piece was updated to include more information on influenza B and the vaccine.

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Why we panic about coronavirus, but not the flu

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you’re freaking out about coronavirus but you didn’t get a flu shot, you’ve got it backwards.

The big picture: A novel outbreak will always command more attention than a common illness, and the coronavirus is a serious health threat. But our newfound hyper-vigilance about infections might be more helpful if we could redirect some of it toward influenza — a significantly deadlier virus that strikes every year.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020 - Science

Vaccine candidate for coronavirus on track for human trials in April

A scientist is at work in the VirPath university laboratory as they try to find an effective treatment against 2019-nCoV. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

The National Institutes of Health and biotech company Moderna, one of several companies working to develop treatment for the novel coronavirus, are on track for human clinical trials for a vaccine in two and half months, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, said in a press briefing Friday.

Why it matters: If the trials prove effective, the vaccine could help protect people from future outbreaks. The researchers were able to successfully take the virus's genetic code and express proteins for animal trials. “I’m happy to tell you there are no glitches so far," Fauci said.

Go deeper: Billionaires and multinationals donate to fight coronavirus

Clinical trial for HIV vaccine ends in failure

The experimental vaccine against the AIDS virus for the 2016 clinical trial. Photo: Mujahid Safodien/AFP via Getty Images

A vaccine aimed at preventing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has failed and will end its clinical trial in South Africa early, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Why it matters: About 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organization. South Africa has one of the highest HIV rates in the world, with young women especially at risk.

Go deeperArrowFeb 3, 2020 - Health