University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics begins H3N2 variant clinical trial

Researchers at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics have begun a clinical trial of a new vaccine for the H3N2 variant flu virus.

The H3N2 variant is similar to the H1N1 virus from 2009. Approximately 300 people have been infected with the new variant over the past two years after exposure to pig displays at agricultural fairs, with the majority of the cases recorded during summer 2012, reports.

The variant, health experts warn, appears to spread more easily to humans from swine than other similar virus.

"This is a brand new strain, again, and it's not one that our body has seem much of in the past," Dr. Pat Winokur, who is leading the clinical trial at UIHC, said, according to "So, we don't have a lot of pre-existing immunity in our bodies to this strain."

Four hospitals in the U.S., including UIHC, are conducting the study in an attempt to prevent another strain of the flu from becoming a pandemic in the future.

"We worry that this could be like 2009, a strain that spreads around the world," Winokur said, reports. "So, we're trying to develop a vaccine before that happens.

"The vaccine company, once they have the data, which they will have in a few months, they could scale up production of this vaccine probably in six months."

Doctors are worried that the H3N2 variant has shown the ability to change and mutate, becoming more dangerous than it already is. Currently, the variant strain is not considered to be aggressively spreading from person to person.