H7N9 Pandemic threat

Human infections with a new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus continue to be reported in China. The virus has been detected in poultry in China as well. While mild illness in human cases has been seen, most patients have had severe respiratory illness and some people have died. The only case identified outside of China […]

What is pandemic influenza

Influenza viruses are changing continuously and new strains emerge from time to time. If a new influenza virus subtype, that is very different from all previous viruses, emerges and causes disease in the human population, people will have little or no specific immunity to it, and consequently this virus may spread quickly and become a […]

Will there be a new pandemic?

With the current knowledge about influenza viruses in humans and animals, as well as the mechanisms that underlie the emergence of new pandemic viruses, it is reasonable to expect that also in the future influenza pandemics will emerge. However the unprecedented increase of our understanding of processes that determine the emergence of influenza viruses with […]

Role of the industry

Pandemic outbreaks of influenza have caused a huge burden of disease in 1918, 1957 and in 1968 with estimated numbers of fatal cases of about 40, 2 and 1 million people worldwide respectively. There is no reason to believe that future pandemics would not have a similar impact. Furthermore there is no way to predict […]

The right steps were taken

Scientific experts agree that declaring the pandemic stage for the “Swine flu” and advising to produce pandemic vaccines were absolutely the proper things to do given the science and technology at our disposal when the pandemic emerged. As early as March 2009, it was clear that the “Swine flu” had pandemic potential: it was a […]

H1N1 vaccines

How safe are H1N1 vaccines? A wide range of measures are in place to monitor and review the safety of H1N1 pandemic vaccines, including (pre-)clinical testing, regulatory assessment, and wide-scale monitoring. This builds on the extensive safety record established with seasonal influenza vaccines over the last 60 years in a wide range of age and […]

Similarities between Swine and Spanish flu

It is interesting to note that there are several similarities between the ‘Swine flu’ threat and the ‘Spanish flu’: Both were caused by an H1N1 virus that originally came from birds, but probably was transmitted to humans via pigs in America. Both caused relatively mild disease and little mortality in the first months of their […]

The Mexican flu: a pandemic

The clinical manifestations of the ‘Swine flu’ were relatively mild by the end of May 2009 and reminiscent of what is normally seen in seasonal influenza. Yet, a higher percentage of gastro-intestinal symptoms was observed and many severely affected people were in relatively young age categories with an overall peak between 25 and 50 years. […]


In the past, new strains have generated pandemics causing high death rates and major disruptions to society. Although healthcare has improved in recent decades, epidemiological models project that today a pandemic is likely to result in 2 to 7.4 million deaths globally. In developed countries alone, accounting for 15% of the world’s population, models project […]


Continuous global surveillance of influenza is key. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a network of 112 National Influenza Centres that monitor influenza activity and isolate avian influenza viruses across all continents. National Influenza Centres report the emergence of an unusual influenza virus immediately to the WHO Global Influenza Programme or to one of the […]