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With proper planning, selective rather than mass vaccination can provide immunity against flu
Date:1/3/2011

Jerusalem, January 3. 2011 With the current outbreak of the flu season in Israel, hospitals are reporting overcrowding, and doctors are advising people who have not yet been vaccinated against flu to get their shots.

Surprisingly, however, three physicists -- one from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and two others from the University of Michigan have developed an unconventional, theoretical strategy for intensive but limited vaccination against infectious diseases (such as flu) that would replace the practice of mass inoculation over a prolonged period. The physicists developed their theory using a technique borrowed from quantum mechanics.

How does it work? The program is based on accelerating the natural extinction of the disease through selective vaccination.

Prof. Baruch Meerson of the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University explains the strategy:

"Consider an unfortunate situation when an infectious disease has spread over a population, and a certain portion of the population is sick. Most of the infected individuals recover from the disease and develop immunity to it. On the other hand, the infected individuals can spread the disease in the population through contacts with susceptible individuals.

"To reduce the infection spread, one can vaccinate all possible susceptible individuals. If they are all willing to be vaccinated and there is enough vaccine for everybody, the vaccination campaign will eradicate the disease with certainty. Very often, however, a large portion of susceptible individuals refuse to be vaccinated. In addition, a vaccine can be in short supply, expensive to produce, or difficult to store."

How to cope with such conditions is the problem tackled by the three physicists: Meerson from the Hebrew University and Prof. Mark Dykman and Dr. Michael Khasin from Michigan State University in the US. (Although presently working in the US, Dr. Khasin earned his do
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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