Scientists look to 1918 flu survivors for vaccine answers

There is an assumption that the oldest among us are the weakest - especially when it comes to disease. But now a new study shows that some of our oldest citizens could actually better equipped to weather a disease pandemic than the rest of us. Why? Because they already survived one of the worst pandemics in human history.

In 1918, a particularly virulent strain of influenza swept across the world, killing 50 million people. That's a whopping 30 million more deaths than were caused by the four- year-long slaughter of the First World War from 1914 - 1918. The "Spanish Flu," as it was called, quickly killed many otherwise healthy young adults.

The study examined the blood of 32 people who were born during or before 1915 and discovered that ALL of them had antibodies to the 1918 strain of "Spanish Flu" in their blood, and many of them were still generating these antibodies.

The researchers were genuinely shocked at the results. "Most people have a notion that elderly people have very weak immunity, or they have lost immunity," Crowe said. But this study reveals that people have "a surprising ability" to maintain immunity to things they were exposed to decades ago.

There's speculation that the individuals in the study had the immunity to withstand the 1918 pandemic because they were actually infected by a less deadly strain of the virus before the onset of the 1918 flu, which prepared their bodies to handle the later, more virulent version of the killer bug.

Of course, where there are antibodies, there is talk of vaccines.

As you may have guessed, this research was likely funded by some Big Pharma giant on the hunt for new flu vaccinations. Crowe admitted that the findings of this study "gives us hope that we can develop vaccines and antibody treatments for any other pandemic viruses that come along."

Really? Well excuse me for not being terribly excited.

The fact is, more often than not, flu vaccines prevent absolutely NOTHING. The problem with vaccinations is that very often you have no idea whether or not they'll work.

Every fall and winter, millions of Americans flock to hospitals, clinics, and temporary immunization stations to be injected with the influenza vaccine in preparation for this year's tidal wave of flu cases. But guess what? The vaccines are duds! Studies of vaccinated and non-vaccinated people showed a rate of infection difference of just TWO PERCENT!! Sadly, if we faced another 1918 flu, two percent wouldn't save many lives.

So what hope to do we have if we face another Spanish Flu in the 21st century? Well, Dr. Marc Siegel believes that, in the event of another pandemic, there will be some - like those tough old survivors of the 1918 bug who were tested in this study - that will develop a lifelong immunity to whatever virus that comes down the road.

But as for the rest of us, I have a feeling we'd be among the victims - even if we do get vaccinated!