Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Researchers 'a step closer' to universal flu vaccine

Tuesday Aug 25 2015

"Universal flu vaccine comes closer, scientists says," BBC News reports after two independent teams of researchers each found ways to target multiple strains of the influenza virus – but, as yet, the research has only involved animals...

Four out of ten Brits may naturally show fewer flu symptoms

Tuesday Jun 16 2015

"Four in 10 Britons immune to flu symptoms, leading to hopes of a new vaccine," The Independent reports. A survey of around 1,400 people found 43% of them had a type of immune cell – T cells – that helps protect against infection…

Could brain protein help people 'sleep off' the flu?

Tuesday Jan 13 2015

"Scientists…believe that a nasal spray could be produced which boosts a protein so sufferers could sleep off the flu," The Daily Telegraph reports. As yet, the research has been confined to assessing the role of one protein in mice...

Effectiveness of Tamiflu and Relenza questioned

Thursday Apr 10 2014

“Ministers blew £650 MILLION on useless anti-flu drugs,” the Daily Mail reports. The paper cites a large study, which investigated the effectiveness of the antiviral drugs Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir).

Three-quarters of people with flu have no symptoms

Monday Mar 17 2014

"Over three-quarters of flu infections contracted last year did not have any symptoms, researchers found," ITV News reports. While this may be good news for people free from symptoms it raises concerns about controlling the spread of any future epidemic…

New deadly strain of bird flu may have emerged

Wednesday Feb 5 2014

“Experts are concerned about the spread of a new strain of bird flu that has already killed one woman in China,” BBC News reports. The new strain, which has evolved from an existing bird flu virus called H10N8…

MPs criticise Tamiflu secrecy and stockpiling

Friday Jan 3 2014

"Drug companies accused of holding back complete information on clinical trials," The Guardian reports. MPs have published a report expressing concern that drug companies are withholding evidence about how effective drugs such as Tamiflu actually are…

Experts with links to drugs industry 'hyped swine flu'

Tuesday Nov 12 2013

"Swine flu risk was inflated by experts with links to drugs industry," The Independent reports. The claim has been made by the authors of a study that analysed newspaper reporting of the swine flu pandemic in 2009…

Probiotic pickled turnip touted as ‘flu wonder cure’

Wednesday Nov 6 2013

"Wonder cure for killer flu," is the headline on the front page of the Daily Express. What the headline fails to tell you is that the "cure" – bacteria found in suguki, a type of pickled turnip – has only been tested in mice…

Swine flu jab narcolepsy risk very small

Wednesday Feb 27 2013

There have been reports in the media today that the Pandemrix vaccine, used during the swine flu epidemic of 2009-10, increases children’s risk of developing narcolepsy...

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