Research sheds new perspective on much-maligned 1976 swine flu (H1N1) vaccination campaign

A study published by scientists from the National Institutes of Health provides additional evidence that persons who received the 1976 vaccine may have immunity from pandeminc H1N1 (pH1N1).

Researchers evaulated immune responses in mice after exposing them to several H1N1 viruses (1918, 1940, 1976 and 2009) and found that prior infection with a 1976 H1N1 virus provided complete protection against pH1N1. Mice infected with either 2009 or 1940 seasonal H1N1 viruses showed partial protection from pH1N1.

Comment: A serologic study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) indicated substantial pre-existing immunity to pH1N1 in adults aged 60 years and older (34%). pH1N1 immunity for younger adults aged 19-64 was estimated at six percent.

Using a stylized assumption that the 1976 H1N1 vaccine was evenly distributed by age and location, rough calculations suggest approximately seven percent of persons in the 19-64 year age group could have received the 1976 H1N1 vaccine. This is close to the NEJM estimate of preexisting immunity for that cohort.

Hence, the much-maligned 1976 swine flu vaccine appears to have afforded a degree of protection against pandemic H1N1.

Vitamin World

Prior infection with classical swine H1N1 influenza viruses is associated with protective immunity to the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus

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