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Pandemic influenza preparedness

H1N1 Flu Shot, Vaccination close-up (cyan syringe) - II

Pandemic influenza preparedness

Pandemic influenza or commonly known as flu, poses significant public health risks that can only be addressed through collective emergency preparadeness by public health authorities and our industry.

There are two types of influenza; seasonal and pandemic. Flu viruses already circulating within the population can cause seasonal outbreaks with mild to severe illness yet could be deadly for most at risk population (people with chronic diseases like asthma, cancer, diabetes, lung or heart diseases, pregnant women and the elderly). Pandemic influenza, on the other hand, is caused by a new strain of flu virus that people around the world have had no previous exposure to. Pandemic influenza is therefore likely to infect many more people in different regions across the globe and cause complications or can be fatal in otherwise healthy individuals.

Typical seasonal influenza outbreaks are caused by different subtypes of influenza viruses, some have previously circulated among the general public. As a result, some people may be partially immune to some subtypes. Pandemic influenza, on the other hand, happens when a new strain of influenza virus emerges in the population. Usually this happens every 30-40 years. The new virus strain quickly spreads around the world, causing high infection and death due to the low level of natural immunity among people.

In preparation for an emerging influenza pandemic, vaccine manufacturers around the world invest in expanding their production facilities, in order to increase their production capacity. Because vaccines represent an essential component of public health policy around the world, it is fundamental that the R&D industry is committed to researching and developing safe and effective pandemic influenza vaccines. Seasonal vaccination programs also play an important role to maintain the flow of vaccine production and improve health infrastructure for pandemic management.

The 2009 A/H1N1 strain caused the latest serious influenza pandemic, of a highest possible level. 166 million doses of H1N1 pandemic vaccines were assured by individual vaccine producers to help meet the World Health Organization’s 200 million dose target for supplying the developing countries.

1918–1919

“Spanish influenza” pandemic killed between 20 to 40 million people

77

countries today supply influenza data

<50 years

protection by flu vaccines made possible

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