Swine flu looks stable--for now

British scientists have determined that the swine flu virus circulating in Europe is so far closely matched genetically to the A/H1N1 strain circulating around the world. That's an important advancement, as it indicates that a single vaccine could be used to guard people from the new flu.

At least, it's true up to now.

Viruses are notoriously capable of evolving into new strains that are genetically distinct. And each new genetic reassortment of a virus presents a constantly shifting target.

Researchers at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in the UK will develop a virus to make a new vaccine from. But the process will take months. Nevertheless, the scientists are optimistic that the swine flu virus may remain stable.

"That's good news because if we manage to produce a vaccine against one chosen strain the chances are that we will have cross-protection against all the strains," says Wendy Barclay, professor of influenza virology at Imperial College London. "We can rest assured that a single vaccine is likely to protect all. This won't change our strategy, but it's another positive piece in the puzzle."

- read the report from The Times