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The intranasal inoculation of volunteers with living partially attenuated strains of influenza A and B viruses offers a new opportunity to determine the protective effect of serum haemagglutin-inhibiting antibody against a strictly homologous virus, under conditions where the time and dosage of the infective challenge can be controlled, the scoring of proven infections can be more precise and higher rates of infection can be achieved than in most natural epidemics.
In 1032 adult volunteers, whose serum HI antibody titre was determined immediately before virus challenge, there was a consistent inverse quantitative relationship between the HI titre and the likelihood of infection. The PD 50 (50% protective dose) of HI antibody was 1/18-1/36, but an unusual finding was that volunteers with no detectable pre-challenge antibody often seem to be less susceptible to infection than those with pre-challenge antibody in low titre.
In one group of volunteers challenged with an influenza B strain there was no evidence that pre-challenge antibody titres against viral neuraminidase had any significant protective effect against challenge infection.