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A four-year study of 1,414 unvaccinated people across England found that 43% of them had immune cells that protected them from symptoms of both seasonal and pandemic influenza, and reduced their chances of shedding the virus by two thirds.
The work led by researchers from UCL, Oxford University and Public Health England was funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.
The research, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, shows that certain T cells, immune cells that fight infection, can help to control influenza infections by targeting a core structural protein common to all strains of influenza A. Influenza A is the most common type of influenza and is the only type that can cause pandemics.