Historically, vaccine strategies have proven to be most effective at eradicating the targeted virus infections. With the advent of new or re-emerging altered viruses, some of which jump species to infect humans, the threat of viral pandemics exists. The protracted time to develop a vaccine during a pandemic necessitates using antiviral drugs in the intervening months prior to vaccine availability. Antiviral drugs that are pathogen specific, for example Amantidine, Tamiflu® and Relenza®, targeted against influenza viruses, are associated with the emergence of virus strains that are drug resistant. The use of ribavirin, a more broad spectrum antiviral, in combination therapies directed against influenza and hepatitis C virus, has proven effective, albeit to a modest extent. Attention is focused on the potential use of interferons (IFN)-α/β as broad spectrum antivirals in acute infections, to invoke both direct antiviral effects against viruses and activation of specific immune effector cells.
Keywords: Influenza, HCV, pandemic, immunomodulatory, antiviral, interferon, drug resistance
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