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March 20, 1996

Antigenically Different Subtype in New Flu Vaccine

JAMA. 1996;275(11):825. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530350007002

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A NEW variant of the subtype H3N2 of influenza virus A has emerged in the past 5 months. It is sufficiently different from the current subtype that it, or one antigenically similar, will be used in next year's influenza vaccine.

The new variant, called A/Wuhan/359/ 95, was isolated in Wuhan, China, in September. Since then it has turned up in several places in China, and in Singapore and Guam. Three isolates similar to it have been found in the United States.

Although two new variants of the other A virus subtype have also emerged during the past few months, they are not antigenically significantly different from the current vaccine, so the current strain, A/Texas/36/91, is being retained. Similarly, no new variant of influenza B virus has appeared, so the strain in the current vaccine, B/Harbin/7/94, is also being retained.

FDA and WHO Decide  The decision to switch to the new