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Improving the representativeness of influenza viruses shared within the WHO global influenza surveillance and response system

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journal contribution
posted on 04.09.2020 by Dmitriy Pereyaslov, Galina Zemtsova, Christine Gruessner, Rodney S Daniels, John W McCauley, Caroline S Brown
BACKGROUND: Sharing influenza viruses within the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System is crucial for monitoring evolution of influenza viruses. OBJECTIVES: Analysis of timeliness and geographic representativeness of viruses shared by National Influenza Centres (NICs) in the WHO European Region with the London WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza for the Northern Hemisphere's 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 influenza seasons. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data from NICs on influenza-positive specimens shared with WHO CC London for the above-mentioned influenza seasons were analyzed for timeliness of sharing with respect to the February deadline (31 January) for inclusion in the WHO consultations on the composition of influenza virus vaccines for the Northern Hemisphere and geographic representativeness. RESULTS: The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons were different in terms of the seasonal pattern, the timing of the epidemic, and the dominant virus. Consistent patterns of virus sharing across the seasons were observed. Approximately half the viruses collected before the deadline were not shared within the deadline; the average delay between date of specimen collection and shipment receipt was 3 and 1·5 months for the first and second season, respectively. CONCLUSION: A baseline was provided for future work on enhancement of specimen sharing in the WHO European Region and improving the vaccine virus selection process. Greater insight into virus selection criteria applied by countries and the causes of delays in shipment are needed to understand the representativeness of viruses shared and to assess the importance of this for vaccine strain selection.