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Diagnostics Microbiology and immunology

Finding Viruses Hidden in Plain Sight

Credit: Annett_Klingner/Pixabay.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve heard about rising numbers of cases. But assessing a population’s exposure to a virus is difficult because existing methods may not account for multiple circulating strains, rates of vaccination, and levels of natural immunity. Recognizing this, researchers in Vietnam tested 24,402 serum samples collected between 2009 and 2015 for antibodies against 11 human influenza A strains (1). After obtaining a composite antibody measurement, they found that 26 percent of the Vietnamese population is exposed to H3N2 influenza every year and 16 percent is exposed to H1N1 – higher than expected in temperate countries.

“Our study population had almost zero influenza vaccination, so we were able to use our antibody measurements as true indicators of past influenza infection,” said co-lead author Maciej F. Boni (2). “But we still need a better understanding of how to distinguish infected individuals from vaccinated individuals, and how to include the effects of antibody waning into an analysis like this.”

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  1. DN Vinh et al., Nat Commun, 12, 6680 (2021). PMID: 34795239.
  2. Penn State (2021). Available at:
About the Author
Liv Gaskill

During my undergraduate degree in psychology and Master’s in neuroimaging for clinical and cognitive neuroscience, I realized the tasks my classmates found tedious – writing essays, editing, proofreading – were the ones that gave me the greatest satisfaction. I quickly gathered that rambling on about science in the bar wasn’t exactly riveting for my non-scientist friends, so my thoughts turned to a career in science writing. At Texere, I get to craft science into stories, interact with international experts, and engage with readers who love science just as much as I do.

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