American scientists have taken several key steps toward developing a near-universal flu vaccine. If further research works out, the vaccine could fight many types of conventional flu, as well as avian influenza, and even the virus that caused the 1918 flu epidemic that killed 50 million people.
Conventional flu strains mutate over time. And every year, well before flu season, scientists have to predict whether new strains will be coming through. Manufacturers base their vaccines on that prediction, which hasn't always been correct. One of the holy grails of immunology is finding some aspect of a virus that doesn't change from strain to strain, so the exact strain is no longer important.
In other news, the leadership of the Republican Party is, no doubt, preparing a press release decrying spending on medical research as "pork."