Nasty viruses that deliver gruesome death (Ebola) or cause horrific birth defects (Zika) understandably get the big headlines when they flare up. The outbreaks are followed by calls for action and furious scrambling to come up with a cure. And while that’s reasonable, it contrasts sharply with the oddly ho-hum attitude humans seem to have developed toward a deadlier viral killer – influenza – that shows up every year to inflict widespread sickness and claim the lives of 290,000 to 650,000 humans, most of them old or infirm.

The 2017-2018 flu season is shaping up to be one of the deadliest in recent history. The illness hit hard and early, killing an unusually high number of young and healthy people (30 children had died in the U.S. by mid-January), causing a shortage of antiviral medicine and prompting some overwhelmed hospitals to take drastic action, such as treating sick people in parking lots.

It’s been a century since the Spanish Flu wiped out as much as a third of the global population, and epidemiologists say humanity is due for another “Big One.”

Because pandemics happen when influenza viruses make huge mutations, rather than small shifts, seasonal flu shots would offer little to no protection. Finding a better way to fight this serial killer needs to be given at least as much urgency as attacking the next sexy virus that pops up in the news.