Model of surface antigens of influenza virus built for the Professor W G Laver to show the rapid mutation of the influenza virus and shown at the Royal Society in June 1994
The influenza virus has antigens on its surface called haemagglutin and neuraminidase. They can change their shape in two processes known as drift and shift. In ‘drift’, small changes occur meaning that the antibodies which protect us cannot bind and destroy the virus. In ‘shift’ an entirely new virus is created to which no one has any immunity. This makes influenza a difficult virus to protect against. The model was made for William Graeme Laver, a virologist working on a treatment for influenza, to exhibit at the Royal Society in June 1994.