Wpg Free Press: Winnipeg data a factor in developing vaccine
Salah Muhmud, an associate professor in the department of community health sciences and Canada Research Chair in Vaccine Evaluation, recently wrote a column for the Winnipeg Free Press on the development of this year’s influenza vaccine.
As he writes:
…When we talk about the “flu” we are actually referring to a virus that has many different strains. Influenza is really a disease of ducks, which can infect humans as well. As it shifts from species to species, it changes. Eventually, a new virus will emerge, like the H1N1 strain did in 2009, which was a mix of human, swine and bird viruses.
In order to develop an effective vaccination for the coming year, you not only have to know what strain of influenza was active last year, you also have to guess what strains may be circulating in the next year and then build that into the formula for your vaccine.
In order to do that, you need data. Plenty of data.
As it turns out, Manitoba is a contributor of data to the worldwide effort to fight the flu through its membership in Canada’s Surveillance Team Research on Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness (STRIVE).
STRIVE, which also includes health authorities in British Columba, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, was created to keep tabs on the flu as it circulates throughout the country as well as the effectiveness of the vaccines that are created to combat the virus. The Manitoba STRIVE team is based at the University of Manitoba Vaccine and Drug Evaluation Centre and works with about 30 sentinel physicians and nurses in the community.