New Anti-Flu Weapon Said to Help Those 65 and Older

February 24, 2020

In a flu season that’s longer and more infectious than usual, and which happens to be nearly concurrent with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 (with which it shares some symptoms), there appears to be some good news for at least 1 vulnerable population. 

Seqirus announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Fluad Quadrivalent, touted as the first and only adjuvanted quadrivalent influenza vaccine, developed to help protect adults 65 years and older against seasonal influenza. 

Gregg Sylvester, MD, Seqirus’s chief medical officer, points out in a company press release that the burden of seasonal influenza in this age group remains an important public health concern.” 

Vaccines tend to be less effective for this population, because of age-related drop-off in immunity

"It is important to have influenza vaccines to help protect this vulnerable population," Anjana Narain, Seqirus’ executive vice president and general manager, said in today’s announcement.

Fluad Quadrivalent strengthens, broadens, and lengthens the body’s immune response by using the same MF59 adjuvant technology as found in Fluad, which was approved in 1997. More than 114 million doses of Fluad have been distributed across 29 countries.

People 65 and older have higher hospitalization and death rates compared to younger, healthier adults, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, in the 2017/2018 flu season, 70% of flu related hospitalizations and 90% of flu related deaths occurred in this age group. 

Up to 647,000 people in the United States were hospitalized due to influenza-related complications during the 2018/19 influenza season, according to the agency, which also says people should get vaccinated before flu season begins because it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection.

The announcement comes on the heels of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying last week that vaccines are performing well this flu season—at least for flu vaccines, which are usually about 40% effective in preventing medically attended, laboratory-confirmed influenza infection. The vaccines against influenza A and B are about 45% effective this flu season. 

 

The CDC recommends annual vaccination for all individuals aged 6 months and older.Flu is easily transmitted, and that transmission can happen 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after someone is sick