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'Influenza vaccine has no effect': study

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08:14 CET+01:00
There is no evidence to support the contention that the influenza vaccine administered to the over 65s is of any more use than opening the windows and washing hands, a new study from the Cochrane Collaboration claims, according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

The Cochrane Collaboration, an international not-for-profit organization providing up-to-date information about the effects of health care, has compiled data from 40 flu seasons worldwide.

The institute has concluded from the studies that there is no clear evidence to suggest that the flu jab offers any more protection than cheaper, hygiene-based methods such as hand-washing.

"Our analysis is compiled using millions of data from 40 seasons worldwide. What we have seen is that the influenza vaccine can at best have a very small effect," said Thomas Jefferson, one of the authors of the report, to the newspaper.

The Swedish Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen) has for the past 40 years advised all those over 65-years-old to take an annual dose.

Most local health authorities in Sweden pay for the flu jab at a cost to the taxpayer of 25-30 million kronor ($3.5 million) per annum.

This is not the first time the Cochrane Collaboration has sounded the alarm over the paltry effects of the vaccine with a report published four years ago drawing the same conclusions, according to the newspaper.

The institute has now selected the best 75 of the available studies for this latest review of the evidence. While conceding that the studies are not of the best research quality, it concludes there is little evidence to suggest that the flu vaccine has any real effect.

The institute thus recommends a larger international, state-financed study to examine the vaccine and existing healthcare recommendations.

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