The evolving history of influenza viruses and influenza vaccines

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The isolation of influenza virus 80 years ago in 1933 very quickly led to the development of the first generation of live-attenuated vaccines. The first inactivated influenza vaccine was monovalent (influenza A). In 1942, a bivalent vaccine was produced after the discovery of influenza B. It was later discovered that influenza viruses mutated leading to antigenic changes. Since 1973, the WHO has issued annual recommendations for the composition of the influenza vaccine based on results from surveillance systems that identify currently circulating strains. In 1978, the first trivalent vaccine included two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain. Currently, there are two influenza B lineages circulating; in the latest WHO recommendations, it is suggested that a second B strain could be added to give a quadrivalent vaccine. The history of influenza vaccine and the associated technology shows how the vaccine has evolved to match the evolution of influenza viruses.

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