An H2N2 flu vaccination programme should be carried out by governments in a bid to protect against any future pandemic, a report has claimed.
According to US researchers, a safe vaccine already exists after an H2N2 outbreak in the 1950s and 1960s, and using it on people younger than 50 now could save billions if a pandemic does develop.
The Vaccine Research Centre study claims an H2N2 pandemic to rival the H1N1 strain in 2009 is possible and preventative action must be taken.
Up to four million people are thought to have died during a global H2N2 outbreak between 1957 and 1968. The resultant vaccination programme was ended in the late 1960s, meaning most people below 50 have missed out on the protection.
Researcher Gary Nabel told Nature journal: “Our study suggests that people under the age of 50 have little or no immunity, and resistance dramatically increases for those older than 50. This was also the case for the 2009 H1N1.”
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