During the 20th century, more people died from viral infections than from all the wars around the globe. During the 21st, in a world where air travel can quickly transport a human virus host to any population concentration on Earth, runaway pandemics or bioterror attacks could easily exceed that number. This alarming two-part call to action uses true-to-life dramatizations, detailed 3-D animations, and commentary by virus specialists, WHO and CDC administrators, and other experts to analyze the continual mutation and proliferation of the most diverse group of life forms on the planet—and to propose steps that must be taken to thwart them. 2-part series, 52-53 minutes each.
Scientists are developing a universal flu vaccine. A brand new vaccine against seasonal flu has to be created once a year for both the northern and southern hemispheres. The constant and rapid evolution of the virus means an effective vaccine this year, can be useless by the next. Scientists in Belgium are determined to beat the virus by producing a vaccine that works long-term, against many types of flu, including pandemic strains. Professor Saelens and his colleagues have pinpointed a small part of the flu virus that doesn’t adapt and doesn’t mutate. It’s a tiny protein that lies just below the surface, a constant, fixed target for a vaccine. The team has been able to generate molecules of DNA relating to the protein they are targeting and implant them into these simple bacteria. The bacteria are easy to store safely and can be grown as needed to make the vaccine. Since the vaccine production process would not have to change each year, in the long run, it would be more straightforward – and cheaper. Some scientists don’t agree that targeting such a small protein is the way forward. But so far, the results have been positive. But to prove the vaccine’s effectiveness, tests need to be done on a much larger scale and over several flu seasons. This will be expensive. Despite this, Professor Saelens is convinced this method holds the key to the elusive enduring flu vaccine.
ANYA is a contemporary sci-fi love story about newlyweds whose seemingly simple decision to have a baby catapults them to the center of an explosive genetics mystery with far-reaching consequences for their child and the future of humanity.