Medicine: This Year's Flu

Influenza is no longer the mass murderer it was decades ago, when an epidemic could kill thousands. Doctors theorize that people have developed sufficient natural immunity to reduce the virus's impact; medicine is usually able to cope with serious complications in the rare cases in which they occur. Still, the bug is impervious to antibiotics and too versatile to be fully controlled by inoculation. It mutates quickly enough to keep a step ahead of vaccine manufacturers; a new vaccine, using live viruses, will not be ready for some years (TIME, Aug. 21).

Last year the A/2 Hong Kong strain erupted in the...

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